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The Building of the Temple of Wonder at MAS


In 2016, the Museum of Arts and Sciences began planning the Temple of Wonder project, an outdoor interactive capital improvement designed to support the goal of delivering STE+aM programming and to active an under-used area of a popular nature trail.

Inspired by a temporary structure designed by Jen Upchurch and constructed in New York several years ago, the Museum’s project was re-designed to be permanent and site-specific. For the Macon project, the Museum set out to create a Temple of Wonder that would be just as magical as the original but that would last many, many years.

Using a local team of engineers, the MAS designed a larger, site-specific version of Upchurch’s Temple of Wonder. They wanted to construct an outdoor sculpture using the most durable and maintenance free materials possible while also having a structure that would be safe for families to engage with inside and out. The individual sections of the star were fabricated in a local welding shop and then delivered to the MAS campus. The 15-foot tall steel frame for the Temple of Wonder was installed onsite, requiring a team of installers and a crane.Once welded into one large structure onsite, the star frame was placed in its location and grounded by concrete pillars.

The brightly colored panels were fabricated using a recycled plastic material called Metem. Our local partner Georgia Artisans worked with cutting tools and equipment at Spark Macon to cut the panels, perforate the stars, and install the panels on the steel frame.

Once the concrete was poured into the formed ring structure, a layer of high performing, non-toxic photoluminescent aggregate (called Glow Stone) was added to the surface. The aggregate collects light from the sun during the day and glows at night, giving the illusion of the cosmos.

Extensive grading and site work surrounding the Temple of Wonder improved a formerly unattractive and underused area of the Museum’s popular Sweet Gum Nature Trail. Improving the area benefits both the MAS and their neighbor, the Macon Little Theatre.

New sod was installed around the Temple of Wonder to direct water run-off away from the structure. Additional ground improvements planned in the area include new curbing, drains, rocks beds and bioswales to manage storm water that enters the area from their parking lot. Landscaping also is planned to include a pollinator garden.

The photos above show the finished project ready for everyone to enjoy!