Children’s Imaginarium Making Headway to Open in the FallMay 18, 2023
A world of imagination and exploration is one step closer to reality as Children’s Imaginarium recently gained an official address at 195 N. Second St. The STEM-focused museum has been years in the making and is on its way to opening in fall 2023.
“The public is going to see the museum come to life as we’re in the process of transforming the exterior and interior,” said Maggie Gordon, co-founder and president of Children’s Imaginarium. The museum, located within the north end of HOM Furniture, will be renting nearly 14,000 square feet from the Minnesota-based furniture retailer.
“Starting with an existing space made the project more feasible, as it was important to us to avoid having tremendous overhead costs. We wanted to establish a sustainable model from the beginning and have the flexibility to direct more resources to other essential areas,” said Gordon.
Gordon and co-founder Tammy Szekeress are among the 12 board members who are bringing the museum to fruition in downtown Wausau. It will be one of the first new organizations to open in the former Wausau Center mall space.
The capital campaign, established in 2014 in partnership with the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, currently has raised over $4 million, representing 99% of the target amount. “The Community Foundation has been instrumental in getting the project off the ground, and we’re so grateful for its assistance in reaching this milestone,” said Gordon.
The campaign goal of $4.2 million supports exterior construction, interior work, exhibit creation and installation, pre-opening expenses and operational expenses incurred during the first year.
In upcoming weeks, the exterior will take shape with storefront glass windows. Passersby will then witness the transformation inside, where young people and adults alike will soon explore and learn. The roomy, single-level building will house five one-of-a-kind exhibits that reflect Marathon County’s distinct character and history, from agriculture to manufacturing.
“Drip Drop Discovery,” “Wind-Powered Play,” “Construct It,” “Farm to Fork” and “The STEM Tree” displays are being constructed by Kidzibits, a nationally recognized exhibit fabricator in St. Paul, Minnesota. Area companies and donors are sponsoring exhibits that incorporate educational principles of science, technology, engineering and math.
The museum board will soon name an executive director, who will focus on further developing partnerships to maintain and expand the museum. The executive director will also recruit additional team members, including volunteers. Gordon emphasized that volunteers are essential in providing visitors with an enjoyable experience. Individuals interested in volunteering for the museum will have a chance to register through the new website launching in early July.
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WHY NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME
It’s a new era in downtown Wausau. With the city undergoing redevelopment, a children’s museum is a fitting addition to the cultural and entertainment offerings in the area. According to the Association of Children’s Museums, more than 30% of children’s museums are part of a downtown revitalization project, and its members’ total economic activity is over $440 million.
“Not only will it provide an active learning experience for local kids of all ages, but it will attract visitors from outside the area, increasing tourism and encouraging visits to our terrific restaurants and shops,” said Gordon.
Dave Eckmann, president of Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc., welcomes Children’s Imaginarium and its many benefits to the community. “Investing in a children’s museum demonstrates that Wausau is strongly committed to the future,” he said.
Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc. is leading the charge to inform residents of progress made during the development phases of Downtown Wausau. WOZ is collaborating with Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, local governments, businesses and organizations to involve and engage the community.
Refreshing changes are happening in Downtown Wausau. Make sure to sign up for regular emails at downtownrefresh.com, and for more information, email email@example.com.