As construction of a new downtown science museum nears completion, Gainesville residents were invited Thursday evening to learn about the project and sign their names on the museum’s final steel beam.
At the current Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, located at 904 S. Main St., employees showed off a virtual-reality headset, 3-D-printed Pokemon figurines and gel balls that become transparent in water.
By the end of the night, about 70 names were signed on the 30-foot-long beam to be placed atop the new museum’s structure in Depot Park today at 1 p.m.
“It’s a momentous occasion,” said Leslie Ladendorf, the development director at the museum.
A South African foreign exchange student at UF, 29-year-old Mandisa Haarhoff, signed her name on the steel beam with gold, black and red Sharpies.
“It felt, like, electrical almost — like I’m putting my name on something really great,” the English doctoral student said.
The $9.5 million construction of the new creativity- and invention-themed museum began in April and should finish in the fall of 2017, Ladendorf said.
The new space will house exhibits, a lab and a garden with statues of inventors, adding to the Fab and Creativity Labs and technology classes that are already offered at the current museum’s location.
The construction project will honor Dr. J. Robert Cade, who invented Gatorade during his time at UF.
The scientist and inventor was known for his creativity, according to his daughter, Phoebe Miles, a co-founder and the CEO of the Cade Museum.
She said she hopes museum visitors draw inspiration from Cade’s life.
Dr. Cade collected Studebaker cars, planted a rose garden, wrote poems and studied kidneys before he died.
“He was the most creative person I’ve known in my life,” she said.
Cade taught Miles about solving problems in creative ways and about the importance of perseverance, which motivated her to develop the museum.
To honor her dad’s love of Greek philosophy and design, Miles said the architecture of the Cade’s rotunda follows the golden ratio. Miles said it was representative of how the museum provides a bridge between science, math and design.
“Seeing science through the eyes of an artist is invention,” Miles said.