THIS SKETCH shows the planned addition to the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay, which will focus on science, tech, engineering, art, math and medicine. (Sketch provided)



Findlay City Planning Commission on Thursday approved plans for a 3,717-square-foot addition to the Mazza Museum at the University of Findlay.

Construction is scheduled to start in May and be completed by year-end 2020, said Ben Sapp, director of the Mazza Museum. Public tours will likely start in February 2021, he said. The addition will be at the southeast corner of the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion, which contains the Mazza Museum.

The Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics/medicine) Education Center will display art, host robotic and engineering competitions and offer professional development. It will provide resources for kindergarten through high school and college students and adults.

Students and visitors won’t simply read books about STEAM subjects when they visit, university President Katherine Fell has said.

“They will be participating in its very creation, using those aspects of our world to create their own works of art, and certainly to watch the professionals create their own art,” she said. “So we think this is going to be experiential learning at its best.”

The price tag for the project has not been disclosed. But it will be partially funded with a $350,000 state grant. The university won the grant in cooperation with Findlay City Schools.

Joseph and Judith Conda are the lead donors.

Judith Conda first visited the Mazza Museum eight years ago on a trip with ambassadors from the Toledo Museum of Art.

She immediately loved the facility: “I knew this was something that we had to involve ourselves in.”

Despite her career in special education, she “really didn’t appreciate picture books in terms of the fact that they’re really windows on the world” until her involvement with the Mazza Museum.

The Condas, who live in Perrysburg, try to find projects that “are geared toward helping young people navigate their lives,” Judith Conda said.

The Mazza expansion “will reinvent Mazza, and create a leading-edge STEAM learning environment for current and future generations. That is big,” said Joseph Conda, a retired Owens-Illinois executive.