July 9, 1997 in City
Children’s Museum Gets Downtown Site Board Selects Vacant Building On West First In ‘Growing And Changing’ Neighborhood
FROM FOR THE RECORD (Thursday, July 10, 1997): Correction Building in use: The future site of the Children’s Museum of Spokane at 1017 W. First currently is being used by the Mid-City Senior Center. An article in Wdnesday’s Spokesman-Review said otherwise.
The Children’s Museum of Spokane has found a permanent home on West First Avenue, an area of downtown known in recent years for drugs and prostitution.
But members of the museum’s board of directors said that’s an old perception.
“We actually did our homework and worked with public safety officials and city planners,” said Mary Brandt, executive director of the museum.
“That is currently one of the safest areas in the city.”
Other downtown locations considered for the museum included the remodeled Amtrak station, the old Lamonts building and the former Whiz Kids store. A search committee looked at nearly every available building in the downtown area, Brandt said.
She said converting the vacant brick building at 1017 W. First into a children’s museum will help the neighborhood grow.
“I think it gives us an opportunity to put down roots in the community,” Brandt said. “Being a part of a vibrant neighborhood that is growing and changing and embracing us with enthusiasm is a positive for us.”
Steve Mumm, a member of the board of the directors, said the museum is precisely what the low income neighborhood needs.
“This kind of educational attraction is a magnet in urban areas for kids and their families as well as businesses,” Mumm said. “Other cities have done it, and it’s been at the forefront of revitalization of urban areas.”
He said the museum has raised about 20 percent of the $500,000 it needs for operating costs, building renovations and scholarships for low-income kids.
Last year, the Children’s Museum opened for four months in temporary quarters at 222 N. Post, introducing children age 10 and younger to hands-on exhibits that ranged from a replica of a Greek village to a tornado generator.
By the end of the pilot period, more than 10,000 people - many of them adults - had visited the museum and 600 had purchased memberships, Brandt said.
Scheduled to open next spring, the museum could attract 35,000 children and adults each year, Brandt said.
Museum organizers plan a celebration at the new site on Monday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
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