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Making the garden grow

A remodeling of the Clore Garden of Science


Date: October 7, 2019

Over the past 20 years, the Clore Garden of Science has encouraged hands-on, creative, multidisciplinary encounters with the wonders of science. Nestled into the campus of the Weizmann Institute of Science, it has become a favorite destination for class trips, for families with children, and for the young and curious at heart. It has also set the standard for innovative and engaging science education in Israel, and served as a model for other open-air science museums around the world.

While the Clore Garden averages about 120,000 visitors a year, the Davidson Institute of Science Education is convinced that, following an extensive makeover, the Garden will attract and educate many, many more.
This vision to rebuild the Garden of Science into a modern hub for all levels of science education will soon become a reality: The Clore Israel Foundation, a philanthropic pillar of the Weizmann Institute, recently pledged to finance this multi-million-dollar endeavor.

While the facility will remain a largely open-air museum, maintaining its pleasant, garden-like atmosphere, it will be “rewired” for 21st century science education. The infrastructure will be expanded to accommodate significantly more visitors, and reconfigured to promote individualized, team, and group experiences, across different media and levels of learning. There will also be a wider array of exhibits offering advanced scientific encounters, in addition to the tried-and-true demonstrations already an essential part of the Clore Garden experience. Furthermore, the new infrastructure will be designed as a place to display and engage in the latest research being carried out in Weizmann labs, enabling deeper involvement of Weizmann scientists in the Clore Garden activities.



Turning curiosity into adventure
The Clore Garden has served more than 1.2 million visitors since opening its doors in 1999, the majority of them students on field trips. The central focus of the Garden is to offer a meaningful and memorable science experience, and ignite curiosity around science. It has also been a vital resource and partner for Israeli schoolteachers from K-12. This fusion of fun and fact is what has made the Clore Garden one of Israel’s most popular venues for learning about science and a regular part of the country’s science education curriculum.
Building on this successful model, the renovation will broaden the scope of the facility to place more emphasis on biology and chemistry, in addition to the existing hands-on activities related to physics and ecology. New content will be chosen based on its effectiveness and accessibility in teaching new concepts in science. The expanded Garden will also allow for even more ambitious special exhibitions and events, with a greater capacity for attracting and accommodating larger groups.

The new facility will operate via several core components, working separately and combined as an integrated vehicle. Among the central elements planned to propel the facility into the future will be a Conservatory of Science (building off the concept of a music conservatory), where students, teachers, and scientists can share space, ideas, and expertise. 
It will also include a digital network of “curiosity points” to tailor tours to specific ages and areas of interest; a “Maker Lab” for experiments and creation; a pavilion for special exhibitions; a multimedia auditorium; and outdoor classrooms and amphitheatre. 

New ideas, cherished traditions
As this substantial overhaul is anticipated to take nearly three years, the facility will be closed for most if not all of that period. In that time, the remodeling efforts will also include upgrading and refurbishing the existing buildings on the site, to provide more display space with multimedia capabilities, along with the development of new educational content, for all ages and audiences, to complement the renewed structure. 
“The renovation plans build upon the cherished traditions and strengths of the Clore Garden of Science, while deepening its core values and upgrading its physical and pedagogical resources,” says Dr. Liat Ben David, CEO of the Davidson Institute of Science Education, who is leading the project. “Our ultimate goal is to establish a state-of-the-art, unique, ‘wow’ experience, that visitors will be part of, will want to come back to again, and will recommend to their friends.”