Excited children in yellow hard hats helped knock out a wall so construction can begin on the Akron Children’s Museum’s 3,000 square foot expansion on Thursday.
The additional space will house a new office, sensory room, redesigned makerspace and a new party room, which will also serve as a private community space as well as a STEAM workshop for groups and schools who visit the museum.
“The Akron Children’s Museum has become a destination for schools having essential learning experiences, families hosting birthday parties, and summer campers looking for informal learning opportunities in a bright and safe environment,” says Traci Buckner, executive director of the museum.
Since its opening in 2016, the museum has welcomed more than 136,000 visitors.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan says the expansion is an important step in reimagining the Akron Civic Commons and attracting even more families to the downtown area.
“We want to make downtown that staple destination for families of all ages,” Horrigan says. “By continuing to invest in these areas, younger generations will see Akron as a welcoming place for families to start and to grow.”
The museum raised $500,000 to fund the construction of expansion, however due to rising costs, they’ll need another $150,000 to furnish the new space.
“We need to make it as special as what we’ve done out here,” says Betsy Hartschuh, co-founder of the museum and lifetime Trustee, pointing to the museum. “We need to get the elements that make kids want to come back time and time again to learn through play.”
The museum has set up a public fundraising campaign to help raise the final $150,000. It will remain open during construction, which will officially begin this summer and is expected to be completed by the fall.