For years, the vision of a new science museum on the banks of the Sacramento River has seemed like little more than a far-off dream. But that vision became a whole lot clearer this week.
New drawings of the Powerhouse Science Center show a modern museum and planetarium connected to a revamped historic power plant that has stood vacant for decades.
The drawings were part of a presentation to the SMUD board of directors on Thursday night. At the end of that hearing, the board voted to approve a $7 million naming rights deal with Powerhouse that will give museum backers vital financial backing to close on $18 million worth of tax-exempt bonds for the project. Powerhouse already closed on $22 million in bonds late last year.
With that money now in the pipeline, Powerhouse officials are expecting an early summer groundbreaking. The $49 million museum is scheduled to open in summer 2020.
“SMUD’s sponsorship of naming rights is just the jolt we needed to jump start the construction of the Powerhouse Science Center with a certain groundbreaking on the riverfront early this summer,” Councilman Steve Hansen said.
The Powerhouse museum will have a 120-seat planetarium and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space dedicated to nature, water and space exploration. There will also be room for three to four traveling exhibits each year.