Kids help Akron Children's Museum break ground on big expansion

The Akron Children’s Museum has begun the final phase of funding for a major expansion that will add more education rooms, sensory areas, event space and offices, the museum announced Wednesday.

The museum has already raised $500,000 for the project and is asking the public’s help in raising an additional $150,000, Executive Director Traci Buckner said. The 3,000 square foot expansion will bring the museum’s total space to 13,000 square feet, Buckner said.

entrance to the Akron Children's Museum

“We made that half a million dollars happen, and we just need a little bit more to push us over the top,” Buckner said.

The construction began Wednesday as a group of young children donned yellow hard hats and helped knock down a wall where the rooms will be built.

Mayor Dan Horrigan was there for the groundbreaking and says the museum’s expansion will provide more educational enrichment opportunities for local kids and families.

“We want families to be able say – ‘yeah, that’s a place to go, that’s where we can take the kids. And we’re looking for more opportunities to be able to do that,” Horrigan said.

akron kids museum2.jpg

The museum, which opened in 2016, is located inside Lock 3 park. Since the museum opened, more than 193,000 people have visited from across the country and internationally, Buckner said. It’s also frequently used by local schools for field trips.

Because of that, part of the expansion includes a bigger event space that is intended to be used for students, clubs and birthday parties, Buckner added.

Horrigan added that he hopes the expansion will attract Akronites not just to the museum, but the Lock 3 Park area.

“It kind of highlights what’s going on downtown, it kind of highlights the canal, the stuff that we’ve done on the streetscape. It’s just a natural extension of all of that,” Horrigan added.

akron kids museum3.jpg

The museum offers various hands-on exhibits where children learn about arts, sciences and other skills through play. They can play pretend in a theater like a musician, and build with blocks like an architect.

The new construction is set to be completed by September 2022. The museum will remain open during the work, Buckner said, as the construction is mostly taking place in areas that are not currently being used.

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