Explore the Final Frontier at the Space Station Museum in Novato

July 31, 2014

Space Station Museum NovatoBring your budding astronauts to learn about space exploration in a hands-on environment at the Space Station, Novato's free, kid-friendly space museum. Located in a storefront in the newly renovated Pacheco Plaza shopping center, the Space Station is a small but rich little museum that offers families and school groups a chance to explore the history of spaceflight and exploration. The museum also organizes the annual Novato Space Festival, a free family event that offers hands-on activities, interactive displays, and the chance to meet legendary NASA astronauts.

At the Space Station Museum, kids can see, handle, and even try on actual space artifacts, many of which have actually flown in space. You can try on a pair of Russian cosmonaut's space suit gloves, don a prototype space helmet designed for the Apollo missions, and even sit in a seat from a Soyuz spacecraft.

Objects on view are part of the collection of the W Foundation, a non-profit founded by Ken Winans and his wife Debbie Wreyford-Winans, and include American, Russian, and Soviet-era space equipment, clothing, photographs, a meteorite, and more. The W Foundation, which possesses one of the largest private collections of space exploration artifacts in the world, also works with organizations and events like Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, and San Francisco Fleet Week to present educational exhibits on the history of space exploration.

Space Station Museum NovatoSpace Station Museum Novato

The staff and volunteers at this little museum are friendly and knowledgable, and are happy to guide children through the exhibits and help them try out some of the artifacts. It's really a lot of fun and well worth a visit for families with kids five and older. Plan to spend at least half an hour there. You'll also find on site a small shop with a great selection of outer space-themed toys, books, and gifts for sale.

Space for the museum is being donated by Pacheco Plaza, and it will be there as long as room is available for it. Since the space isn't very big, the museum will rotate different exhibits. Look for objects related to NASA's space shuttle program to go on view soon.

The Novato Space Festival

The Space Station also organizes the annual Novato Space Festival at Pacheco Plaza. This year's festival takes place on Saturday, August 2, from 10 am to 4 pm. Meet astronauts Dick Gordon, who was part of the Apollo 12 moon mission, and Dan Bursch, who spend over 200 days living in space. You can also explore a full-size lunar module replica, get your photo taken in a moon buggy, check out interactive space displays from NASA, create space arts and crafts, and look at the sun through a telescope.

Space Station Museum NovatoSpace Station Museum Novato

Admission and parking for the Novato Space Festival are free. Activities take place at the Space Station Museum and on Pacheco Plaza's Center Stage. It's a lot of fun, and educational, too, so don't miss it.

If You Go

The Space Station is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am to 3 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Private tours and events are available by reservation. Admission is free.

The museum is located in Pacheco Plaza shopping center at 464 Ignacio Boulevard, between Marin Coffee Roasters and Boca Pizzeria.

Space Station Museum NovatoSpace Station Museum Novato

To get there, take Highway 101 to the Ignacio Boulevard/Bel Marin Keys exit, and head west on Ignacio Boulevard, and turn into Pacheco Plaza.

For more information, visit www.thespacestationca.org or call (415) 524-3940.

(While you're at Pacheco Plaza, swing by Paradise Foods for bargain-priced 99¢ Lappert's ice cream cones.)