At a University of Findlay Mazza Museum celebration held today, plans were unveiled for the Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM (science, technology, engieneering, art and mathematics/medicine) Education Center, named in honor of lead donors from Perrysburg, Ohio who became captivated with the Museum’s offerings and literacy mission.
Architectural renderings depict the planned 4,000-square-foot addition, which will be built on the east side of the Museum, which is home to the world’s largest and most diverse collection of original art from picture books. Along with the Conda’s donation, the project will be funded in part with a $350,000 State of Ohio grant earned with Findlay City Schools, and other fundraising efforts. The University plans to host a groundbreaking ceremony in spring 2020.
Judith Conda, a former special education teacher, explained at the celebration her introduction to the Museum during a trip seven years ago with her daughter and Toledo Museum of Art ambassadors. “The first time I entered Mazza I had palpitations,” she said. “I got hooked immediately.”
Judith said she had used picture books to teach, but did not fully appreciate their value as “windows on the world” until her visit to Mazza. “Then I became involved here, and it was magic,” she maintained.
She added she and her husband, Joseph, are “enthralled and excited” to be a part of the project, which will benefit students in grades K-12 and will be one of the first in the nation to blend a campus art museum with the hard sciences. The new Center will include hands-on learning with picture books in an interactive, state-of-the-art learning environment.
“We’re here to celebrate the transformation happening in STEAM education at the University of Findlay,” Joseph Conda said. He was impressed by the Museum’s vast collection of original art works from many of the most famed picture book artists and illustrators, as well as the educational programs the Museum frequently offers for visitors of all ages.
Joseph thanked University President Katherine Fell, Ph.D., for her “vision, commitment, support, and confidence for this project,” and praised Museum Director Ben Sapp for his unwavering commitment. “This is a challenge to friends out there to consider the unparalleled collaborative opportunities this project can offer your institutions and the people you serve. We’re here to help you.”
The Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM Education Center “represents what is best about our community, our region, and our University,” Fell said. “I think adding the arts to STEM is really brilliant. Much of what goes into designing and producing children’s literature is representative of all aspects of STEAM. This will be experiential learning at its best.”
“We thank the Condas for their generosity, their imagination, and their hope,” said Sapp. The Center “will create a truly cross-curricular experience… It will serve as an ever-changing resource to all who visit our campus.”