Major Expansion at Children’s Museum of Denver

 04/29/2014 | 11:02 AM 
Children's Museum of Denver president Mike Yankovich leads the ceremonial first dig on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, before construction begins to expand the facility and public space. Photo courtesy CPR/Corey Jones

Children’s Museum of Denver president Mike Yankovich leads the ceremonial first dig on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, before construction begins to expand the facility and public space.
Photo courtesy CPR/Corey Jones

Denver, Colo. — The Children’s Museum of Denver broke ground on a major Museum expansion, announcing the plans, timeline and a naming gift for the $15.8 million campaign. Museum president and CEO, Mike Yankovich, cited the “critical role” the Museum plays in early childhood education, and its 74% attendance growth since 2003 as the need for this much-anticipated expansion.

On a 9-acre campus, the Museum will more than double the current indoor and outdoor program and exhibit square footage, and add considerable guest amenities and parking. The project is slated to be completed fall/winter 2015. To date, $13.3 million of the $15.8 million campaign goal has been raised.

Eight new interactive exhibits, designed by the Museum’s team of education experts, exhibit designers and community partners, are based on the Museum’s core early learning focus areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Health and Wellness, 21st Century Skills, Literacy and the Arts. They include: a unique community tree welcome experience; a teaching kitchen; an art exhibit with clay and artist-in-residence studios; a whimsical dental health exhibit; a hands-in water laboratory; a kid-powered energy exhibit; a 3 ½ story climbing structure; and a year-round Colorado-themed outdoor experience. Descriptions on new Museum experiences below.

The Museum will continue to focus on offering innovative experiences and programs for young children and projects numbers served to significantly increase with expansion. The Museum’s post-expansion stabilized year (FY18) is expected to see: on-site attendance between 430,000-460,000; a 66% increase in the Sponsored Admissions and Memberships Program, giving 25,000 free admissions and offering free family memberships to children from low-income schools; a 150% increase in outreach field trips to Colorado schools; a 100% increase in educational public programming; and an 80% increase in on-site field-trips.

“The extraordinary contributions from community and civic leaders, partners and funders have made this project possible,” said Yankovich. “The Children’s Museum of Denver will be the exceptional children’s museum this city deserves and it’s because of all our incredible supporters willing to invest in early learning.”

Based on a longstanding commitment to initiatives and projects that improve the quality and availability of early childhood education in Colorado, the Cydney and Tom Marsico Family Foundation is making a significant investment in the expansion of the Children’s Museum of Denver. The name of the new Museum, upon opening in late 2015, will be “Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.”

“We believe that the educational opportunities provided in a child’s early years are fundamental to a healthy, successful and sustainable future,” commented Cydney Marsico, president of the foundation.  “It is our privilege to be included among such a distinguished group of corporations, foundations and philanthropists to support this innovative and ambitious new era for play-based learning in Colorado. The Museum’s dedicated Board and professional staff have worked tirelessly to envision a world-class facility for all of Colorado’s children, and we are thrilled to be involved.”

Lead funders for the capital campaign include, alphabetically: An Anonymous Family Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation, Colorado Health Foundation, Delta Dental of Colorado and the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation, and the Cydney and Tom Marsico Family Foundation. The Museum staff and board continue to actively fundraise for the $2.5 million needed to close out this momentous campaign.

New Museum Experiences:

  • WELCOME – A community tree photo interactive will set the stage for a whimsical children’s museum experience with pictures of the diverse Museum audience populating a steel and wood art installation.
  • ART –In a 2,300 square-foot art exhibit and gallery, guests will experience visual art with raw materials, a clay studio, collaborative painting projects, art-rich programming and a year-round Colorado artist-in-residence program.
  • FOOD – A fully working teaching kitchen with container gardens and aquaponics system will teach where food comes from, inviting children and their caregivers to prepare healthy foods together.
  • HEALTH – Designed to captivate imaginations, the Village of Healthy Smiles will teach children and grown-ups alike the importance of dental health with spaces like “The Brush Together Cottage,” “The Toothfairy’s Workshop,” and “Sugar Bugs Plaza.”
  • WATER – A 2,200 square-foot hands-in water laboratory that highlights an urban water system will give young scientists opportunities to explore the properties of water, investigate flow and test complex ideas about buoyancy, density and displacement.
  • ENERGY – Children will find, collect and use resources like wind, solar, fossil fuel and others in this powerful 2,100 square-foot energy exhibit.
  • ALTITUDE – A vertical 3 ½ story climbing structure will evoke the adventure of Colorado as guests encounter a swaying gondola, rope bridges, hovering clouds and an ice-capped summit with city views to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west.
  • OUTDOOR – A giant, invigorating outdoor experience will immerse children in unstructured, imaginative, independent play with features including canyons, rivers, fort building and a zip line.

About the Children’s Museum of Denver
At the Children’s Museum of Denver we believe in kid-powered learning. Every day, our expertly designed exhibits and programs open doors for Colorado’s curious young minds to express what they know and to discover, create and explore more – on their own terms.
Since 1973, the Children’s Museum of Denver has served the metro-Denver community as a learning institute dedicated to the education and growth of young children, newborn through age 8, and their caregivers.
Last year, we served more than 348,000 children and their grown-ups. The Museum provides rich play experiences and a dynamic learning environment for children to joyously learn through play. We offer innovative and interactive Playscapes (hands-on exhibits), daily educational programming and year-round special events.
The Children’s Museum of Denver is a 501(c)(3), private non-profit organization, and a Tier II SCFD member.

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