City to Give Powerhouse Science Center $30 Million over 3 Decades

SACRAMENTO -- Once known as the Discovery Museum, the hands-on learning center on Auburn Boulevard changed its name to the Powerhouse Science Center in anticipation of its move to the long abandoned PG&E facility just outside Old Sacramento.

It’s been a struggle after public and private fundraising was swallowed up by the focus on the Golden 1 Center, but the tide has turned with the city’s commitment of $30 million over the next three decades.

"We are the in the best position we have ever been," Powerhouse marketing director Shahnaz Van Deventer said.

With all the talk of developing Sacramento’s neglected waterfront, the Powerhouse project is the close to breaking ground -- building momentum.

"We’re going to be a greater vision for the redevelopment of the riverfront, which is something the mayor is so interested in," Van Deventer said.

Still the center's primary focus is exposing school kids to the wonders of science and engineering -- and making in hands on and fun.

"I think being able to experience something first hand is so much better than reading about it in a book and that’s really what powerhouse is all about," education specialist Caitlin Eberhart said.

For the next couple of years kids will experience the wonders of science at the current center, including its hands on space exhibits and planetarium.

But the new center will have four times the space and a new larger, digital planetarium.

"We’ll be able to do so much more than we’re currently able to, create new programs, seat more people, reach more people," Eberhart said.

Up a quarter million projected visitors a year at a location next to Interstate 5 that can serve as a gateway to the city.

"We want to be able to say, 'Hey, stop in, see what this is about, check out Sacramento," Van Deventer said. "I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the city."

A final phase of bond financing still has to be secured, but the goal is to open the new center in 2020.