The sound of laughter is commonplace at the DoSeum, but it was especially prevalent on Friday as children splashed and played in the East Yard of the children’s museum which was rededicated as “Will’s Stream” in memory of Will Naylor Smith.
Smith, who was killed in a tragic car accident on the island of Maui, was the son of local philanthropist Susan Moulton. He was eight years old. Moulton created the Will Smith Foundation in 2007, which has made significant gifts to several museums in San Antonio, including a $450,000 donation to build the DoSeum’s East Yard and stream prior to its June opening. The museum held the dedication ceremony to recognize Moulton and the Foundation for generous contributions to local education.
“Just the sound of it, and the way it feels, it’s so healing,” Moulton said of the stream. “The energy of watching the boats catch the little waves coming down the stream, and to watch the kids watch their own little creations, I just think it’s really cool. … Will would have enjoyed playing in the stream, but his gifts will provide children with joy and reflection.”
DoSeum CEO Vanessa Lacoss Hurd, Moulton, and DoSeum board member Tracy Watts-Nakpodia spoke during the rededication ceremony. Museum visitors were invited to build their own boats using natural materials like twigs, leaves, and feathers that were released into the stream.
Since 2007, the Will Smith Foundation has donated millions to children’s causes in San Antonio, Hawaii, and Africa. Earlier this week, Moulton’s $4 million gift to the Witte Museum was celebrated as playing a key role in the construction of the museum’s new dinosaur wing.
“I was a travel agent for 20 years, so he got all these opportunities that a lot of kids never get to have,” she said. “That’s the most important part to me, if you can bring things here for all children to enjoy.”
Will’s older brother Charlie has already visited the museum with his mother and looks forward to the arrival of a statue of Will, which will overlook the stream. The East Yard and the stream will provide a place for visitors to contemplate, play and learn about sustainability, Lacross Hurd said.
“You see kids out here all the time,” Moulton said. ”We’re delighted to use this stream as an opportunity to teach them about South Texas, or the land, or our wonderful Texas limestone and waterways.”
A film crew joined Moulton to capture footage of the ceremony, which will be used in a documentary about Will’s legacy. Moulton hopes that the crew can complete and submit the film in time for the Maui Film Festival in mid-2016.
“Will loved it, he loved playing on the beaches, he loved hiking and playing in the mountain streams; to see every child have the opportunity to feel that is pretty cool,” Moulton added.
*Top image: Ryder Bufe, age 5, releases his boat into “Will’s Stream” at the DoSeum. Photo by Lea Thompson.