A giant light board changes colors andn children spin each individual knob. Photos by Kylie Kissinger.

Room to Grow: A look inside LASM’s new STEAM space

Last month, the first of Louisiana Art & Science Museum’s four-part STEAM-focused renovation project was unveiled. The space, dubbed “The Seed,” focuses on hands-on learning opportunities, helping children engage with the many facets of science, technology, engineering, art and math. From a light-up periodic table to a laser harp to digital microscopes, the space, built in partnership with Ritter Maher Architects, Faulk & Meek General Contractors and Xdesign, is packed with ways for children of all ages, but especially 8 to 15, to grow in their curiosity.

“As a team, we assessed what our community really needed,” says LASM Development Director Frances Lee. “We decided that we wanted to focus on catering to kids ages 8 to 15, providing something for once they graduate from Knock Knock Children’s Museum.”

Planning for the STEAM spaces, or STEAM Station as it has been named, started back in 2018. Rather than hiring an outside firm, though, the LASM team worked together to create hands-on experiences and exhibits that they knew would speak to the many visitors to the museum, which include children not just from Baton Rouge, but surrounding cities spanning even into Mississippi.

“We let our experiences and our knowledge of the local community drive the design,” Lee explains. “We wanted to create a place that really provided an experience, something people would want to travel to.”


This focus on community, near and far, is at the core of the renovation. Funding for The Seed, as well as the other three phases of the project, is raised through LASM’s annual gala. In addition to money, community members and gala guests were able to handpick things like LEGO sets, microscopes and more to buy for the new spaces.

“The gala has made it possible for us to make the spaces bigger and better,” Lee says. “With the money going directly to this project, people are able to truly see where their money is going, and I think that’s special and impactful.”

The STEAM areas don’t exist in a vacuum, separate from the rest of the museum and its offerings, though. Rather, they’re an extension of those exhibitions, giving kids a way to interact with and understand aspects of art and science with hands-on experiences.

“Called the ‘Curiosity Zone,’ we put objects from our permanent collection on display for the kids to see at their height,” Lee says. “Then, we offer projects for them to do that are inspired by those collection items.”

And according to Lee, it’s these opportunities to actually interact with ideas and concepts that not only allow children to come to a greater understanding but also spark a genuine curiosity. These formative experiences, whether they happen on a class field trip or on a weekend outing with family, set the stage for a lifelong love of learning.

“These kinds of experiences are an important facet of education,” Lee explains. “It’s crucial to our mission to provide that for the children in our immediate area and beyond.”

To learn more about LASM, STEAM Station and donation opportunities, visit lasm.org.