Children’s Museum Ready to Grow:
Behind the scenes, the Westchester Children’s Museum has been making steady progress creating a unique learning center.
Behind the scenes, the Westchester Children’s Museum has been making steady progress creating a unique learning center. Their Museum Without Walls program, which has 40 community partners, has already enriched the lives of 11,000 students around the County. The next step in the organization’s long campaign is opening a permanent museum.
The historic North Bathhouse at Playland, which had been empty for half a century, has been restored. Over 22,000 square feet of space is ready to be outfitted with permanent and temporary exhibits, classrooms, a climbing structure, a performance theater, water features, and a café and gift shop. The designs are done, the construction documents are ready to go out for bid, and the project is shovel-ready. All that’s needed is for the community to “jump into the capital campaign,” said WCM Board President Corinne Zola on a tour of the site earlier this week.
The Museum’s campaign goal is $10 million, $6.3 million for building infrastructure, $2.7 million for exhibit fabrication and installation, and $1 million for the theater. With those funds in place, they will be able to begin construction later this year and open the doors next year.
The community will have a wonderful opportunity to see the space at the WCM Spring Gala, May 9, 7-10 p.m. Hosting the annual event in the museum’s future home for the first time is a milestone event for the dedicated group. The raw space, which Zola likens to a “big, bright vanilla box” at the moment, will be transformed into a party space with interactive games and exhibits. That evening, they’ll honor two Rye couples, Nan and Lear Beyer and Bets and Rod Miller, who’ve volunteered their time and expertise to the campaign for over a decade.
The morning after, which is Playland Opening Day, the first of two summer pop-up exhibits will open in the museum. “Keva Planks” offers limitless building opportunities using thousands of small, uniform planks. In June, young hands will be able to “Build a Roller Coaster” — from design to test model.
For all of you who remember the children’s classic, “The Little Engine That Could,” think of the Westchester Children’s Museum as the “The Little Museum That Could” — and will.
“The County and residents across the County are invested in this project,” said Zola. “The County, which has supported our plan from its inception in 2001, spent $6 million on construction; the WCM board has raised $9 million.”
Tickets and sponsorships for the Spring Gala are available at www.discoverWCM.org/special-events. Call 421-5050 for summer museum hours and admission donations.