World of Wonders Science Museum set to reopen, refocus on expansion

Wes Bowers, Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif.
·2 min read

Apr. 10—With San Joaquin County returning to the red tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy this week, family entertainment centers, movie theaters and museums have been given the go-ahead to reopen with modifications.

One of those local businesses that falls into that category includes the World of Wonders Science Museum, which announced it will reopen for business on April 15.

The museum will be open Thursdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and health and safety guidelines will be in place, which includes mandatory face coverings, social distancing and limited capacity.

Under red tier guidelines, guest capacity in museums is limited to 25%.

In addition, the museum will close daily for one hour at 1 p.m. so staff can clean surfaces and objects.

Museum president and CEO Sally Snyde said that she has been fielding dozens of calls over the past few weeks about reopening, as well as about the proposed expansion plan that began nearly five years ago.

Snyde said the project's footprint has been decreased from 71,000 square feet to 29,000, and its original budget has been reduced from $39 million to $10 million.

"We've decided not to do the planetarium," Snyde said. "They're just so expensive to build and they don't really pay for themselves. We can add one down the road if we want, but right now it's just not something we want to do. It was just too big."

The rest of the expansion project will move forward as planned, including the plaza, outdoor amphitheater and carousel.

The plaza would include a full-service dining facility and an expanded museum store, while the carousel will feature hand-carved and painted animals native to the Central Valley, including California quail, grizzly bears and hummingbirds.

In addition, the four classrooms and four laboratories will still be constructed as part of the expansion.

"We want the community to know that we're being logical with what we are doing," Snyde said. "We want this project to fit Lodi. We think what we have now is going to do that, and we're going to have fun with it."

When the project breaks ground still remains to be seen, Snyde said, as she and the museum's board of directors are waiting on word from the City of Lodi as to when the seven buildings on the opposite side of Sacramento Street will be demolished.

Once removed on the 100 block of Sacramento Street, the buildings will be replaced by the WOW Plaza. Project plans call for the street to be permanently closed to automobile traffic and converted into a pedestrian thoroughfare between the plaza and museum's main building.

Snyde said the buildings will come down.

"It's a waiting game," she said. "We really don't have a lot of control over it. But we're trying to carry on and get this done."