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The Cade Way: The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention’s permanent home in Depot Park

The Cade Way: The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention’s permanent home in Depot Park

Where can future generations of Gainesville scientists and inventors go to discover the oozy, the gooey and weird, and the wild and wonky? The answer is the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, which will be the crown jewel of a redeveloped Depot Park in Gainesville, Florida. Set to begin construction in 2015, the 21,000-square-foot space will transform the community and beyond by providing students with fun and creative ways to explore new ideas and technologies.

The Cade Museum uses the Creativity Lab, Fab Lab and expert instructors to teach the creative process that brings inventions to life and inspire the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. The museum also celebrates the creative achievements of inventors such as the museum’s namesake, Dr. J. Robert Cade, the University of Florida physician who led the team that invented Gatorade in 1965. In addition to labs, exhibits will tell the stories of other great American inventors and entrepreneurs along with the importance the role of creativity plays in the process. These exhibits and programs are designed to engage visitors in a kind of “purposeful creativity” that leads to great inventions, new businesses and ideas that can transform the world.

The Cade Museum is already providing high-quality educational programming at a temporary location close to Depot Park that not only teaches about science but also engages each student with creative hands-on activities. The camps and classes currently offered focus on interdisciplinary approaches to learning such as combining science and art to foster the creative processes within the brain. The “Cade Way” of learning offered in the student and adult programs focuses on three main components: think like an inventor/entrepreneur; meet an inventor/entrepreneur; and be an inventor/entrepreneur.

By building the museum in the heart of downtown as part of the Depot Park renovation, the Cade Museum is demonstrating its commitment to the community by supporting the redevelopment of an area that is positioned to become the “Central Park of Gainesville.” In addition to the 21,000 square feet of lab and exhibition space, the museum will also include an outdoor teaching space that will blend seamlessly with the surrounding park, allowing visitors and students to extend their experiences to the outdoors.

The Cade Museum Foundation was established with a generous endowment from the Cade Family in 2006 that funds operation of the administrative offices and the current Creativity Lab and Fab Lab. As a public nonprofit organization, the Cade Museum Foundation is looking to the Gainesville community to help support this endeavor through its recently launched “We Believe Community” campaign. And now, with a challenge grant from Mary Cade, the widow of the late Dr. Cade, every dollar donated to the capital campaign will be matched up to $500,000. With a goal to raise a total of $10 million through various grants and donations, the campaign is an important part of the effort to make the Cade Museum a reality.

Making a donation to the campaign today is a declaration of support for transformational education and experiences for children, adults, families and visitors from all over. To make a donation, please contact Leslie Ladendorf, development director, at 352-371-8001 or visit To view a listing of the Cade Museum classes and camps, as well as designs for the future building, please visit our website.

Time Travel, Golden Shovels and a Park Called Depot

Let’s pretend you have access to Dr. Who’s blue Tardis or Marty McFly’s DeLorean time machine for a moment…Now, enter the GPS coordinates latitude 29.65 and longitude 82.32…Okay? Good. Now, hit the accelerator and fast forward to the year 2016.

BOOM! You made it just in time for the grand opening of Depot Park! After years of thoughtful planning, community input, design and engineering, the former brownfield site has been transformed into a lush signature greenspace for the community. The historic train depot building is now filled with the clatter of forks on plates and the chatter of dinner conversation…the restaurant serves up some of the most delicious dishes in Alachua County.

You grab a coffee from the bar and stroll through the football field-sized children’s playground next door. Parents (who are also sipping copious amounts of caffeine) are watching their kids play on some of the coolest play equipment you’ve ever seen. The custom-designed slides, climbing nets and water area are clearly inspired by Gainesville’s history as a former railroad town.

The brassy sound of a saxophone captures your interest, and you turn toward the outdoor music amphitheater perched right on the waterfront. You’re not the only one…crowds from all over the area have traveled here to enjoy the lively jazz concert in Depot Park. Families grill burgers and hotdogs by the outdoor pavilions while their children dance to the beat of the music. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

You take advantage of the concert intermission to take a closer look at the water from the promenade; it’s home to blooming lily pads and flocks of paddling ducks. The ponds’ dramatic fountain displays add a soothing backdrop — who knew storm water ponds could be this picturesque?

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In the distance, you spy bright yellow school buses pulling into the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, located on the west end of the park. The world-class museum offers hands-on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) workshops and shares the stories of pioneer inventors.

You wander past a yoga instructor demonstrating a perfect downward dog beside the park’s iconic sculpture gardens and head toward the nature preserves in the south end of Depot Park. Connected to the Hawthorne Trail, it’s a popular area for cyclists and nature enthusiasts. The UF track team jogs past while birdwatchers stare intently at the saw palmettos.

The insistent beeping of your time machine breaks your concentration. Unfortunately, duty calls, and you’ve got a long to-do list in 2014. You reluctantly step back in — but not before catching a final glimpse of a messy-ponytailed artist painting a striking watercolor of the sun setting on the bustling park.

What a ride!

There’s a lot riding on that horizon. Led by the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Depot Park will tell the story of Gainesville’s past while providing a stage for the future. Home to the Cade Museum, a children’s playground, restaurants and shops, an outdoor music amphitheater, gardens and winding nature trails, Depot Park will bring together the whole community. The 32-acre park is scheduled to open in 2016. Learn more at, or follow the Gainesville CRA on social media for project updates!

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