Landmark children's science museum opens in Sofia

by Tom Anstey | 05 Oct 2015

Muzeiko – the first children’s museum to be built in post-Soviet Eastern Europe – has opened its doors to the public in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Following two years of development, the Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership-designed (LHSA+DP) children’s science discovery centre has been conceived as a “journey moving through time and space”.

The 35,000sq ft (3,250sq m) facility is set over three storeys. On the bottom floor, children can explore the past, with exhibits based on archaeology, geology and palaeontology, while the ground floor represents the modern day, with hands-on exhibits about nature and contemporary cities. Finally, the first floor is dedicated to the future, with interactive exhibitions exploring new technologies and space travel.

The interactivity for kids inside the museum also extends to the site, with exterior components including a science playground, green roof and rooftop climbing wall, rain garden, outdoor activity space and an amphitheatre.

Architectural design for Muzeiko is based on the theme of “Little Mountains”, an allusion to Bulgaria’s mountainous topography, according to LHSA+DP.

“The structure’s glass volume is interrupted by three sculptural forms, or mountains, each referencing through its colour scheme and texture indigenous craft traditions through Bulgaria,” said the architect.

“One mountainous form features abstracted patterns inspired by textiles and embroidery, another by glazed ceramics, and the third by traditional wood carving. The museum utilises large areas of glass to reveal the interior and creating a feeling of openness and transparency about the activity inside, in contrast with most Bulgarian museums that appear imposing and monumental.”

LHSA+DP – who specialise in museum venues that transform cultural and educational ideas into immersive, engaging experiences for multiple related expert services – handled site selection and design, museum architecture, science centre programming and educational consulting and exhibition design, while Sofia-based A&A Architects were architects-of-record. The nonprofit America for Bulgaria Foundation conceived the project.

"Muzeiko is a gift to the people of Bulgaria, especially the children," said Bistra Kirova, Muzeiko's executive director. "The contributions of the team of designers and consultants advance the foundation's missions in the areas of education, the arts, and cultural heritage.

"We hope Muzeiko will become a must-visit attraction for Bulgarians and visitors, and that as it enhances Bulgaria's already rich cultural life and positively impacts our country's economy, more projects like it will begin to develop throughout Eastern Europe.

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Muzeiko – the first children’s museum to be built in post-Soviet Eastern Europe – has opened its doors to the public in Sofia, Bulgaria. Following two years of development, the Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership-designed (LHSA+DP) children’s science discovery centre has been conceived as a “journey moving through time and space”. The 35,000sq ft (3,250sq m) facility is set over three storeys. On the bottom floor, children can
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The interactivity for kids inside the museum also extends to the site / Photo by Roland Halbe
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