Criteria in choosing a new location include ample space to accommodate growing attendance and accessibility for the Museum's diverse visitors who come from every corner of Northeast Ohio
With a growing demand for its programs and exhibits combined with strategic planning by its Board of Trustees as well as upcoming redevelopment of the current property the Children’s Museum of Cleveland is aggressively pursuing locations for a new home.
As part of the process, community leaders and Board of Trustee members have been working with the staff to form a consensus of criteria needed for a new location while exploring available properties and setting up the needed funding for the relocation.
Of foremost priority is a new location capable of providing adequate space that will allow for expansion in order to meet the needs of the region’s children. Currently, the growing demand put on the museum by its visitors from Northeast Ohio is outpacing the facilities at the current location in University Circle. Other priorities include staying within the City of Cleveland with easy access to the facility and parking for museum visitors along with the ability to make a positive change in the 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."
Last month the museum set a record of 13,544 visitors that represents a 40% increase over its average March totals. This puts the museum on track to challenge its annual record attendance of 102,356 visitors. In breaking down the statistics, it is found that of the total number of guests, one fourth come from the east side of Cuyahoga County, one fourth from the west side of the county, one fourth from other Northeast Ohio counties and the last quarter from beyond the region.
It is because of the diversity of visitors whose ethnicity mirrors that of Cuyahoga County that the museum is so vital. It is a melting pot and gathering place of families that allows free communication between parents and children of different cultures and backgrounds.
"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.
As it stands right now, the Museum has two years to relocate. The current property owner (University Circle, Inc.) has announced plans to build a residential development on the property that will be called “One University Circle”. UCI has been working with the museum during the past year to assess potential properties within the University Circle neighborhood as well as keeping the museum abreast of 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.
About The Children's Museum of Cleveland
Offering a variety of hands-on, family-oriented exhibits and programming, The Children's Museum of Cleveland is Northeast Ohio's only destination and resource for young children 0 to 8 years old, parents and caregivers to engage in fun, innovative, interactive play that accelerates the child's creativity, development and education. The Children's Museum is located at 10730 Euclid Avenue in University Circle. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Regular admission is $8.00 for children and adults and free for infants 11 months and younger. The Museum's operations are funded in part by the generous support of over 1,300 member families, and these members always receive the benefit of free admission. For more information about The Children's Museum of Cleveland, visit www.ClevelandChildrensMuseum.org.
The Children's Museum of Cleveland receives public support with local tax dollars from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, to preserve and enrich our region's artistic and cultural heritage.