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Local News

UWF Breaks Ground For Downtown Museum Plaza

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Bob Barrett
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WUWF News
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Credit UWF Historic Trust
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Artist's rendering of the completed Museum Plaza

The University of West Florida Historic Trust hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for Museum Plaza, an open air, historic preservation and education project behind the T. T. Wentworth Museum in downtown Pensacola. New UWF President Dr. Martha Saunders stood in the sun and addressed a few dozen people Tuesday morning as she announced the university’s latest downtown project. "This plaza will offer a covered pavilion, a children's play area and outdoor historical exhibits. The new space will enhance our partnership with the Escambia County School District by serving as an outdoor classroom that helps students better understand the historic landscape."

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Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
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WUWF News
Dr. Brendan Kelly

Museum Plaza is the next phase of development included in the UWF Historic Trust Interpretive Master Plan. That plan was launched in 2015 and details the long term plans for the eight and a half acres that make up UWF's Historic Pensacola properties. Dr. Brendan Kelly, the outgoing vice president for university advancement at UWF, says projects like this are an important part of any public university. "We are supposed to provide intellectual engagement to make cities more interesting, to make communities richer and to enrich the lives of students. And that's precisely what this project does. Museum Plaza transforms one of the most important archeological sites in the United States of America into an outdoor museum. One that is dedicated to teaching and learning and that is what the Interpretive Master Plan for the Historic Trust is supposed to do; make our assets work harder to enrich our lives."

The plaza will serve as a central connection point between the T.T. Wentworth Museum, Pensacola Children’s Museum, Voices of Pensacola multicultural center and the Historic Pensacola Village, while doubling as an outdoor classroom that helps the public better understand the historic landscape.

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Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
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WUWF News
Quint Studer

Along with UWF staffers and some media, there were a couple of major donors at the groundbreaking ceremony. David and Emily Walby gave $100,000 to support the creation and construction of the pavili and Quint and Rishy Studer donated $150,000 to the project. Quint Studer says making this plaza a place for interactive learning aligns with the Studer Community Institute’s efforts to make Pensacola the country’s first Early Learning City. "Children learn all the time. They learn sensually, they learn by experience. And our belief is we've got to create an early learning city, that no matter where you go, you can learn. So when [Dr. Kelly] came to us with the opportunity to put some money into [this project] to make this an interactive place where children just don't watch, they learn."

Construction on the project will begin shortly. Phase one of the project should be ready this summer by mid-August.