YouZeum attracts Columbia College's interest

Friday, June 11, 2010 | 12:31 p.m. CDT
The Routine Maintenance section of the YouZeum shows visitors why exercise is important, different ways to exercise and different types of bones and muscles and how they work. The videos provide an interactive way for children to learn about their bodies.

COLUMBIA — Columbia College is considering buying the YouZeum.

"We are in negotiations at this time," said Joanne Tedesco, spokeswoman for Columbia College, Friday morning.

Tedesco said that a decision could happen as early as Saturday, but she does not anticipate that. She said negotiations might take some time because it is a federally owned building.

Gerald T. Brouder, Columbia College president, said in a written statement that the college was negotiating with the YouZeum Board and the Department of Education regarding a "change of mission."

The terms set by the government outline that no matter what the change might be, it must serve an educational purpose.

Columbia Public Schools discussed buying the YouZeum during a closed session on June 3.

Board member Christine King said the Columbia School Board then offered $750,000, and the YouZeum came back with a counteroffer of $900,000.

King said the school board is no longer interested in purchasing the building.

School Board President Jan Mees said the building would have been used for administrative offices and possibly for the district’s gifted program. Some of the YouZeum’s exhibits might have been left in place for students to access during field trips, Mees said.

“Although this was an enticing opportunity for us, it just wasn’t the right time or the right place,” Mees said.

The YouZeum was expected to serve about 60,000 visitors annually, but since its opening on May 1, 2008, the YouZeum has only had around 40,000 visitors, according to a news release.

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Allan Sharrock June 11, 2010 | 2:14 p.m.

Hey George K. you were a skeptic and you asked these three questions when it first opened. "Would it ever get off the ground? Was a “museum” devoted to the inner workings of the human body really the best use for the old federal building? Would anybody come?. You answered yes to all three. So do you still think our tax dollars was well spent? This is a classic example of how public money was wasted. This was a risky venture that was doomed from the get go. Grown ups that are not in the business of figuring out what kids like (IE toys, food, ect) have no business getting started in it. That would be like me opening a hair salon.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin June 11, 2010 | 4:54 p.m.

I would have agreed with Allan -- if not for a visit to the YouZeum week before last with twenty-two students from my son's 2nd-grade class at Grant Elementary.

Before that visit, I wouldn't have given two cents for the place -- and didn't. It had become a less-than-shining example of the local bloat-ocracy, big egos with big bucks getting someone else to foot the bill -- and blaming someone else when things went awry.

But those kids absolutely loved the Youzeum! They had a great time for several hours on a class field trip that my son talked about for days before and days after.

They played, worked, talked, jumped, laughed, and learned.

At the end of their visit, I bought all the kids souvenir Youzeum pencils, handing them out one at a time as they quietly went back to class (they walked over and back from Grant).

I didn't think anything more about the pencils, but then my son brought something home that blew me away!

22 letters handwritten with those pencils -- one from each child.

His teacher had apparently made their writing assignment that day a thank-you letter to me, with a description of their trip.

They wrote in detail (everyone LOVED the simulated Emergency Room) with pictures, diagrams, and some sweet, wonderful prose.

I may have been right about the bloat-ocracy, but I was wrong about the Youzeum.

The real problem may be that we adults never understood its magic well enough to communicate it with the people who mattered most -- the museum's patrons, our children.

(Report Comment)

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