Children's Museum plans to reopen; future remains in limbo

Feb. 11, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2013 at 8:12 p.m.

After being closed for five months, the Children's Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent will reopen Friday with two new exhibits and plans for a new director.

Board members closed the museum after learning of the Victoria Junior League's plan to sell the Kriesle Building, where the museum has been housed since its founding in 2002.

The museum operated in the building free of charge for its first 10 years, but in the fall, the Junior League asked the museum to pay up or leave, said LeOlive Rogge, museum board parliamentarian and founder.

Five months later, the future of the museum remains in limbo.

Rogge said she has not heard any news from the Junior League and fears the board may not have enough time to find a new location if the museum has to move.

"We have to trust that they'll give us enough time to figure everything out," Rogge said. "We know that there are a lot of people who want us to stay downtown."

Junior League president Lynn Gisler said the sale of the building remains in negotiations.

"The Junior League is excited to hear that the museum is moving forward," Gisler said. "Nothing has changed since last year, and the building has not been sold."

Two new exhibits have been added inside the museum - a life-size, bright light dashboard and an interactive cash register addition to its grocery store exhibit.

For the last few months, museum board members have been busy writing grants and looking for potential new locations.

With a grant from the Albert and Mary Dick Charitable Trust, the museum purchased the Lite Bright Wall for about $14,000.

Museum board president Betty Jo Elder and her husband, Donald Elder, donated the money to pay for the cash register.

Both structures were designed and built by Boss Display, an Ohio-based museum exhibit manufacturer.

"The foundation is always happy to support such a worthwhile cause," said Ronnie Hyak, a member of the Albert and Mary Dick Charitable Trust board. "We are excited that the children of Victoria will be able to enjoy the new exhibits."

Another community member donated $50,000 to put toward hiring a new museum executive director, Rogge said.

The board expects to announce the hiring of a new executive director at Thursday's reception.

Before the museum opens to children Friday, the board will host a light opening Thursday afternoon. A $10 donation per person is suggested.

The museum will honor memberships that were active when it closed, giving members credit for the five months.

"We hope to see parents there," Rogge said. "Some of them really count on us to educate their children."

The board also plans to approach businesses and community members for the support needed to keep the museum alive.

"It just breaks our hearts to turn crying children away when they come to our doors," Rogge said, snipping open the Lite Bright exhibit's plastic tubes during Friday morning's setup. "Children don't need more electronics; they need wrapping paper and an empty box."



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