As a continuation of the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation project, the education center will be receiving a facelift. The main entrance to Barton Springs Pool will be moved into rotunda and the Beverly Sheffield Education Center and Splash! Exhibit, creating an opportunity to educate everyone who visits the pool about the importance of protecting water and preserving salamander habitat. The mission of Sheffield Education Center and Splash! into the Edwards Aquifer Exhibit is to foster stewardship of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer through education.

Image of the Barton Springs Salamander at Splash! exhibit in the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center

History

The Splash! Exhibit opened in 2000 and receives nearly 70,000 visitors annually. The Splash Exhibit is housed inside the Barton Springs Bathhouse within Zilker Metropolitan Park. Barton Springs Pool is home to two endangered species: the Barton Springs salamander and Austin blind salamander. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior permits for the continued operation of Barton Springs as a pool for people to enjoy alongside the salamanders. Due to the needed ecological sensitivity required for this space, the City of Austin created a Barton Springs Pool Habitat Conservation Plan. Within the permitted plan, the City is required to provide at least $45,000 annually to salamander education efforts.

Project Description

This interpretive planning and design project will focus on providing education to all Zilker Metropolitan Park visitors, including Barton Springs Pool swimmers, Austin Nature & Science Center and Watershed Protection program participants. The interactive exhibit will provide information accessible for visitors of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. The exhibit will consider language access since Barton Springs Pool and Splash! Exhibit receive more than one million visitors from all over the world each year.

Over the span of the next two years, we hope to gather input, develop and design an exhibit plan, and build the exhibit. The proposed date of completion is August 2022. This exhibit will be beneficial for the community by allowing more people to learn about how their behaviors impact water quality.

Anticipated Project Schedule

Schedule of interpretive planning in context of larger Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation buidling schedule

  • Research and Programming - October 2019 to January 2020
  • Schematic Design - February to May 2020
  • Project Implementation - June to September 2020
  • Permitting anticipated from September to December 2020
  • Bidding and Award of Contract - January to June 2021

Community Engagement

Community engagement for this interpretive planning and design project has begun. Visit SpeakUp Austin to share input online.

Community Survey Results (open December 5, 2019 through January 11, 2020)

Community Meeting #1: Reflection and Vision
December 5, 2019, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Barton Springs Bathhouse, 2201 William Barton Dr., Austin, TX 78746

The purpose of this meeting was to gather input from the community about what Splash! has meant to you and to help PARD identify how a revitalized exhibit space can continue to education the next generation of visitors to Barton Springs.

Key Stakeholder Meeting #1
November 14, 2019, 1 to 3 p.m.
Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78746