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The Valley gets its due

October 23, 2005

AFTER FIVE YEARS WITHOUT a proper home, the Children's Museum of Los Angeles broke ground Tuesday on a building that supporters already have dubbed "the Disney Hall of the San Fernando Valley." Though L.A.'s cultural venues are dispersed geographically, until now the Valley had been unfairly overlooked as the site of a major museum.

The groundbreaking at Hansen Dam Recreation Area is a sign that L.A.'s political and cultural leaders have learned an important lesson from the Valley secession movement.

When completed in the summer of 2007, the 57,000-square-foot facility will be the largest children's museum in the state. It also will help to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods. The museum will be adjacent to the newly completed Lake View Terrace Library as well as playgrounds and fields, and will make the Hansen Dam area even more popular.

City Council President Alex Padilla has been instrumental in garnering support for the project from around the city. In his speech Tuesday, Padilla, who grew up in nearby Pacoima, recalled that when he was a student, school field trips usually required long bus rides to downtown or the Westside. With the new museum nearby, local children will be able to visit a major cultural institution more easily.

The museum's designers have promised that the $52.6-million building will be playful -- its plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems exposed so that children can see how buildings are put together. The interactive exhibit space will pay particular attention to how human beings relate to the environment around them. The museum will not only be a delight for children from all over Southern California, it will be a sign that Los Angeles is trying harder to serve the interests of its far-flung neighborhoods.

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