Expanding the WOW factor: Expansion to Lodi museum expected to begin next year

Nov. 9—World of Wonders Science Museum president and CEO Sally Snyde said crews should break ground on the long-awaited expansion project some time next year.

"The main thing is, we have brand new plans put together," she said. "We've presented them to the WOW board of directors for approval, and we're basically starting form square one again."

Snyde said the delay was due in part to the demolition of buildings on the opposite side of Sacramento Street in Downtown Lodi, which ended up costing more than anticipated.

She said the new building planned for Sacramento Street will look completely different than before, but the floor plan and basic idea for the project remains the same.

The new building will be three times as large as the existing WOW location in order to accommodate three classrooms and a learning lab.

The rest of the expansion project will move forward as planned, including the plaza, outdoor amphitheater and carousel.

The plaza would include a full-service dining facility and an expanded museum store, while the carousel will feature hand-carved and painted animals native to the Central Valley, including California quail, grizzly bears and hummingbirds.

"The carousel really fits Lodi and just that whole area," Snyde said. "We want this project to really be the center of Lodi."

Snyde said the museum's board of directors sent a new letter out to the community asking for donations to help fund the project.

Other revenue will be generated by selling bricks from the demolished Sacramento Street buildings. Each brick will be etched with a donor's name, and then made into a wall inside the project.

Initially anticipated to cost about $35 million before the COVID-19 pandemic, Snyde said the project's price tag has been reduced dramatically, but did not disclose an exact figure.

"When (the price) was high, (the project) wasn't that positive we wanted for Lodi," she said. "We want to make it look like a little community within Lodi, and think these new plans will do just that."

Also delaying the project was the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut the museum down, causing a stoppage in revenue sources.

"We had our best year in 2019," Snyde said. "Then we had 2020, and now in 2023, we're pretty much back to where we were. We're partnering with (Lodi Unified) school district and Delta (College) for classes, and we're booked up with field study trips from all over the place. Now we've got to get going and get (the project) done."