October 6, 2011: GWIZ

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Our Guest Thursday is GWIZ. Learn about how the science & technology center rose from humble beginnings to become a Sarasota attraction and educational asset. Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone – GWIZ – began as the Gulf Coast World of Science (GCWS) in December 1990. In October 1991, the GCWS opened to the public with only 1,000 square feet and just ten hands-on exhibits. GCWS was soon granted membership in the Association of Science & Technology Centers (ASTC) and ten months later GCWS expanded to 6,000 feet.

In May 1993, recognizing the educational and cultural value the science center added to the community, the Sarasota City Commission voted to provide GCWS with a new permanent home, the former Selby Library building. In December 1997, the city commission reconfirmed its commitment to provide the bay front facility to the science center and a 20-year lease for the building was signed in January 1998. With the lease secured, the board implemented plans for the move to the new facility.

The Board worked with Hands-On, a nationally recognized museum planning company, to create a fresh image for the evolving science center. In May 1998 the Hands-on Science and Technology Center was reborn. With a name change to the Gulfcoast Wonder & Imagination Zone, “G.WIZ” moved into the newly renovated site in June of 2000 and proudly opened its doors to the public on August 26th, 2000. The $3.5 million 33,000 sq. ft. facility located downtown on Sarasota’s bay front was the perfect place for GCWS to be transformed into a world-class science and technology center.