The Children’s Museum of Cleveland continues its aggressive pursuit of a new location buoyed by growing demand for its programs and exhibits, strategic planning by its Board of Trustees and upcoming redevelopment on its current property. Community leaders and Board of Trustees members have been working closely with staff to identify criteria for a new location, explore available properties and begin planning for the funding required to relocate.
At the top of the list of criteria for a new location is adequate space to expand in order to meet even more of the needs of the region’s children. The growing demand for the Museum and its attraction of visitors from throughout Northeast Ohio are outpacing what can be accommodated long-term at the Museum’s current facility in University Circle. The criteria also include a location within the City of Cleveland, easy access to the Museum for visitors, convenient parking and a place where the Museum can make a positive impact on its surrounding neighborhood.
“Our attendance is strong as well as our financial health,” says Maria Campanelli, Executive Director of The Children’s Museum of Cleveland. “We just completed our thirteenth year in a row with a balanced budget, and we are on pace to see another record year of attendance. Now is the time to expand, and with University Circle Inc.’s vision for the current site moving forward, we too are moving forward on plans for an expansion at a new location.”
Attendance at the Museum continued its strong performance and set a record of 13,544 visitors last month. Representing a nearly 40% increase over its average March, the month’s performance puts the Museum on pace to challenge its annual record attendance of 102,356 visitors.
The Museum’s visitors come from all corners of Northeast Ohio. Approximately a quarter of visitors are from the east side of Cuyahoga County, a quarter from the west side of Cuyahoga County, a quarter from other Northeast Ohio counties and a quarter from beyond the region. This reach across the metropolitan area brings a diversity of visitors whose ethnicity closely mirrors that of Cuyahoga County and is the envy of other cultural destinations in Cleveland. This demand from across the region is expected to only continue in coming years. The Museum currently captures approximately 17% of the market while children’s museums in similar cities average market penetration of 41%.
“The Children’s Museum plays a unique role within Cuyahoga County, offering a fun and engaging place for young children to learn through play,” says Rebekah Dorman, Director of Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children. “The Museum serves families and children from diverse backgrounds and there is no other organization quite like it in our region. It is our unique cultural asset designed specifically for our youngest citizens.”
The 400 children’s museums across the country are leading a movement that combines specific learning objectives with play in informal but developmentally appropriate learning environments. A recent example at the Museum is the exhibition I Feel: Understanding Emotions Together. Developed in partnership with Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children, educators and parents the exhibit recognizes the importance of emotional intelligence in the lifelong success of a child.
“As we pursue the ideal location for our Museum, we keep in mind the collaborations and partnerships that the right location can foster. And, we look to other children’s museums around the country and are committed to creating a new one here that rivals those,” says Campanelli.
The Museum’s plans to relocate must happen within the next two years as its current property owner, University Circle, Inc., has just announced that a developer has been secured to build a residential development on the property, called One University Circle. UCI has worked closely with the Museum during the past year to assess potential facilities existing within the University Circle neighborhood and to keep the Museum updated on its vision for the current property.
“We appreciate UCI’s transparency with their process that has allowed our Board to anticipate reaching this moment and given the Board the advance notice it has needed to initiate strategic planning and pursue relocation for the Museum” says Campanelli.
“The Children’s Museum is an important asset within the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, and we are committed to helping them find the best location for their expansion needs as well as make the transition to a new facility,” says Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle, Inc.
Saturday, May 3rd – Celebrate spring with Princess Merida from Disney’s Brave and May Day activities 11 am-2 pm. Activities will include decorating the May Pole, making coffee filter flower bouquets and meet and greet with Princess Merida! Free with paid Museum admission or membership.
Ecology programs will be featured all week leading to the Go Green! event on Saturday, April 26th from 11am – 3pm. Spend the day learning about how your family can help our planet by composting, conserving water and gardening.
Camps welcome 4, 5 and 6 year old children. A multi-age curriculum has been developed that will encourage teamwork and creativity. Themes for 2014 include Superhero Science, In My Own Backyard, In My Own Backyard, Fairytale Adventure, Invent It, Art Meets Science, Kitchen Chemistry and Dinosaur Dig. Camps run from June 16th to August 8th. There will be no camp the week of the July 4th holiday.
Bob the Builder needs your help! Families will join Bob as he makes decisions on building a house in this interactive story time. Children will use their creativity and problem solving skills to match the tools to the job and the job to the career while they learn about construction. Don’t forget to take your family’s picture with Bob the Builder too!
Event held on January 4th, 12th and 25th at 11am
February 9th ,22nd and 23rd at 11am
March 9th, 29th and 30th at 11am
Free with paid Museum admission or membership.