Art Center Embraces STEAM by Welcoming Berks Launchbox Maker Space and New Virtual Reality Lab
READING, PA – GoggleWorks Center for the Arts (GoggleWorks) has announced a science and technology strategy to offer new approaches to its creative mission. The plan includes a unique partnership with Penn State Berks, bringing to GoggleWorks the Berks Launchbox, a maker space with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other fabrication tools for businesses, artists, and the community. The new strategy also includes the formation of a GoggleWorks Virtual Reality Lab.
The Berks LaunchBox will offer a maker space with 3D printers and tools for prototyping, entrepreneurship workshops, meet-ups focused on topics related to business development and technology, and special youth programs. The Berks LaunchBox will be open to members of the Greater Reading community of all ages, and will additionally serve as a resource for artists at GoggleWorks. “There are a myriad of opportunities in the field of STEAM-Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics,” said Levi Landis, President and Executive Director of GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. “The Berks Launchbox exemplifies these inventive opportunities and provides a rich model for partnership: a hub for incubating businesses and educating their leaders as well as a space to encourage creativity, design techniques, and new processes for artists.”
Keith Hillkirk Chancellor of Penn State Berks said, “My colleagues and I at Penn State Berks are delighted to enter into this partnership with the GoggleWorks as it will provide mutually beneficial opportunities for enhancing entrepreneurship education, support for start-ups, innovation, and engagement in economic development across multiple constituencies in our community.”
GoggleWorks also announced it is coinciding the Penn State Berks partnership with the opening of new GoggleWorks Virtual Reality (VR) Lab. “Artists Kris Jackson and Jason Morris have been working for two years as a private studio, with pilot programs at GoggleWorks that benefit school children, Fortune 500 companies, and visitors,” Landis continued. “Now we will integrate this dynamic, interactive art form into our mission, making the Virtual Reality Lab the eighth formal teaching studio on our campus.” GoggleWorks leaders explained that the new lab will allow for the expansion of VR in after school programs and summer camps, while adding new ways to experience tours, interactive methods for exploring static art objects, and opportunities for art parties and other events. The GoggleWorks VR lab is the first in the state that is designed for artists to create work using virtual and augmented reality tools, as opposed to other centers that focus on gaming, hospitality, prototyping, or instructional design. To celebrate the occasion, GoggleWorks will hold a VR Lab exhibition in the Schmidt Gallery on view from January 11th to the 30th.
“Many of our Board members, including Marlin Miller and former Reading Mayor Tom McMahon have urged us to explore opportunities with technology and new media,” said Landis. “We were limited by the cost of equipment and the challenges of growing a new audience, but by building partnerships with leaders doing extraordinary work we can design programs that offer new creative horizons for our community, artists, and visitors.”