The Westchester Children’s Museum recently broke ground on the renovation and capital improvements of its space in Playland’s North Bathhouse, a National Historic Landmark.
Funding for the improvement project comes from a matching grant of $824,000, administered by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and funded through New York State Council for the Arts/Empire State Development Arts & Cultural Facilities Improvement Program. The grant was successfully matched by contributions from individuals, businesses, and foundations.
“We are pleased to see the investment in the Westchester Children’s Museum awarded by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council,” said Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester. “This award process successfully met our focus on Live Work Play, economic strategies that reflect the diverse needs of our region. The Westchester Children’s Museum meets the educational and cultural needs of our children, and this is especially meaningful to the future of Westchester and the Hudson Valley.”
The infrastructure improvement project converts the entirety of the site into a year-round facility that will provide opportunities for hands-on exhibits and STEAM programming. Improvements will include the installation of plumbing for multi-use classrooms, maker spaces, a future waterplay exhibit, and restrooms. It also will include new electrical, IT and safety systems, in addition to a new admission and entrance area, plus new classrooms, gift shop, snack area and queuing space for school groups.
The undertaking increases available operating space threefold and allows for up to five times the Museum’s current capacity. The museum’s current operating space will remain open throughout the construction period, which is slated to be completed in May 2019.
Located along a stretch of the Long Island Sound adjacent to Rye Playland, the home of the Westchester Children’s Museum was originally built in 1928 as a summer seasonal structure for beachgoers to change into swimsuits.
The Westchester Children’s Museum opened to the public in mid-2016 with 6,500 square feet of exhibit space in the now named Hoch Laager Boardwalk Galleries. While the current operating space is a fraction of the full site, it has already become integral to Westchester’s cultural and educational landscape and has had more than 100,000 visitors and welcomed nearly 1,500 families as members to date.
“We are most grateful to the State of New York and the Mid-Hudson Economic Regional Development Council for recognizing the role our facility plays as an educational, social, cultural, and economic driver,” stated Tracy Kay, Executive Director of the Westchester Children’s Museum. “The initial milestone grant and the significant support from a wide array of donors to match the grant in our is a clear reflection of the need to continue growing and the demand for fun-filled, interactive valuable learning experiences for children
While attending the event, Westchester County Executive George Latimer told the Westchester County Business Journal that a fully-operational children’s museum fits into his administration’s vision of Playland’s future which is “to try to make the attractions in this park and this environment as much year-round as we can.”