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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Center, museum join forces

Two organizations that have been promoting a science center and children’s museum in downtown Spokane announced Wednesday they have merged their efforts into a single organization named after the Mobius strip, a well-known geometric shape.

Board members and supporters of the two nonprofit efforts decided that the science center and children’s museum had so much in common that it made sense to join forces.

A new children’s museum is expected to open this summer in a 16,000-square-foot space in the basement of River Park Square. It will be called Mobius at River Park Square. Construction on the museum exhibits should begin by March, said Gage Stromberg, executive director for Mobius.

A long-sought science center on the North Bank of Riverfront Park has been included in the governor’s capital budget request for 2005. The $1.5 million request would go for pre-planning and pre-design, center sponsors said. The capital request is now before the Legislature. Work on a science center hinges on a large fund-raising campaign, and probably would not begin until 2007 or 2008, proponents said.

The science center would be called Mobius at Michael P. Anderson Plaza in honor of Lt. Col. Anderson, the astronaut and Cheney High School graduate who died in the Columbia space shuttle accident on Feb. 1, 2003.

Mobius is the name given to a continuous one-sided loop that has gained wide recognition as the symbol for recycling. The shape was discovered by August Mobius, a 19th century German mathematician. Mobius was chosen as the organization name, Stromberg said, because the Mobius strip has no beginning and no end and is a source of childlike imagination.

“We think it’s a symbol that works well for us,” Stromberg said during a press conference in the atrium at River Park Square. The strip was also used in the logo for Expo ‘74.

A full-sized bronze statue of Anderson is being sculpted by Dorothy Fowler and would eventually be placed in a main plaza outside the science center building. A separate fund-raising campaign for the statue has surpassed the $80,000 mark with a goal of $125,000.

A scale model of the bronze is on the second floor of River Park Square near Wetzel’s Pretzels.

Donations to the statue are accepted at Spokane Teachers Credit Union, said Anne Marie Axworthy, a co-chair of the statue committee and a member of the Mobius board.

A new science center is proposed for a 5.7-acre tract of North Bank land purchased as part of a 1999 voter-approved park improvement bond issue. The land includes former dairy property. In 2003, the private nonprofit group formerly known as the Inland Northwest Science and Technology Center reached a 50-year lease with the city to use the land for a science center – a 75,000-square-foot, fish-shaped building.

Linda Elkin, president of the new Mobius board, said the children’s museum and science center will combine volunteer talent, financial resources and fund-raising efforts.

Elkin is a vice president for commercial lending at U.S. Bank. Stromberg is on leave from Wells & Co., and his position as executive director of Mobius is being underwritten by Washington Trust Bank.