The Albuquerque Children's Museum
was initially opened in Coronado Mall
in, oh, I'd say 1991 or 92. It was mostly privately funded, and ran on a shoestring
for quite a while. One of its oustanding characteristics
was its volunteer
program; they'd allow kids as young as 13 to come and help out on the floor.
They got more than they bargained for initially; homeschoolers loved this idea and even now, much of their volunteer force consists of homeschoolers and retired people, both of whom can work during the day.
In any case, the museum is notable for its diversity; rather than being simply a science museum, they rotated through sets of exhibits that included all kind of historical and cultural themes.
Eventually the museum was sucessful enough to move to larger quarters that were nearer to the museum district of the city. This was by and large, a good thing. The new facility had more than 3 times the floor space of the old Mall shop, and allowed for much more ambitious exhibit design.
Throughout this time, the (sort of) competing museum, the Explora Science Center (which was funded by the city) had much more expensive exhibits, but generally lower attendance. We at the children's museum tended to mock Explora whenever we could.
In, I dunno, 1994 or so, the museum got a $500,000 grant from Intel to install a computer lab. I was on the committe to define the capabilities of said lab, which ultimately came to include 10 60Mhz Pentiums, all networked and running Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. (Ugh.) Still, being a kid and helping to spend 500 grand, that was cool.
Eventually, I took a paid position running the computer lab, my first real job. Still, shortly thereafter I had to leave and concentrate on academics.
All this time, there was much talk of a merger between Explora and the Children's Museum. I figure the city folks got tired of seeing the fancy, expensive place so empty. Anyway, said merger somehow happened (I don't know the details) and there is now one hands-on museum in town: The Explora Science Center and Children's Museum of Albuquerque. There's a name designed by committee if I've ever seen one. The Explora folks even took over our facility. Sigh.
Anyway, that's where the museum stands now. All this history notwithstanding, it's a cool place. Worth stopping by if you're in the museum district of Albuquerque. Lots of cool science stuff, and their bubble room is way fun.
Ah yes, Descent. That was a real blast. And Magenta: V-Mail was a great name. Some people, dey ain't go no taste.