A unique museum without walls will soon have a roof over its head, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. couldn’t be happier about it. “The long-awaited Bronx Children’s Museum has nearly completed its design phase, and will break ground later this year,” he announced during his State of the Borough speech on Thursday, February 18th.
“For many kids, it is in places such as this The Bronx Children’s Museum where they first attain their appreciation for the arts, “ said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “There is more to attaining a well-rounded education than just passing multiple choice tests and places like the Bronx Children’s Museum helps spark the imaginations of many of our students. I am very excited to have invested so much time and effort into helping this project get off the ground. I look forward to their groundbreaking later this year.”
The Bronx Children's Museum will be located in Mill Pond Park, along the Harlem River.
Until now, the Bronx has been the only borough without a children’s museum facility. But with construction set to begin this year in a 12,800 square foot space at the historic Bronx Terminal Market Powerhouse at Mill Pond Park, a wide range of arts, music and science programs for young children will, at last, have a brick-and-mortar home.
“The Borough President was one of our earliest supporters,” the Museum’s Board President, Hope Harley, reminded audience members she chatted with at Cardinal Hayes High School, where Mr. Diaz delivered his address. “He has allocated a total of $3.5 million without which we couldn’t have gone forward, and his faith in us helped to spur other public and private donors to get on board.”
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council, the Bronx State Assembly delegation under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as numerous individuals and foundations have all contributed to a fund for the building and its exhibits that has reached $10,000,000.
“A decade ago, a small group of people who lived or worked in the Bronx began with a dream. Others flocked to the idea, made a plan and spent years developing it and now the NYC Department of Design and Construction will officially submit our design for bid by the end of this month,” Ms. Harley said. “O’Neill McVoy Architects have created a marvelous adventure space from what was essentially a raw loft in a building shared with the Parks Department — our landlord — and Stadium Tennis Center.”
“The Museum will have a uniquely Bronx flavor,” Executive Director Carla Precht pointed out. “It has been rocking and rolling without walls now for six years and sees over 15,000 children annually in borough schools, community agencies, and at festivals in after- and in-school programs. Its converted school bus is a mini-museum in its own right with an interactive diorama of the Harlem and Bronx Rivers where kids can experience the surprising natural wonders of the Bronx hands-on.”
“By the time we open our doors,” she added, “we will have been to over 300 sites, seen more than 75,000 children and family members, and we will have piloted and tested most of the arts, environmental, and cultural programs that are informing the development of our exhibits.”
Local artists are being enlisted to help design the space and exhibits to ensure that they will look and feel like the Bronx.
This rendering shows a crawl space that will afford a close-up view of an exhibit about rivers.
Long a supporter of the museum, Sonia Manzano — known to generations of kids as Maria from “Sesame Street” — is enthusiastic about the fact that construction will soon be underway, “I have been involved with the Museum for close to a decade,” she said. “I was raised in the South Bronx and so I am well aware of the need for a museum to serve the children of that community. There are more than a quarter of a million children under the age of nine living in the Bronx, and almost half of those children are living under the poverty level, making the need for a museum vital.”
History of the Museum
The Bronx Children’s Museum (BCM) provides highly effective and innovative inquiry-based educational programs and exhibits to children and families throughout the Bronx. Founded in 2005, BCM is the borough’s only cultural and educational institution designed to inspire children and families to learn about themselves and the diversity and richness of their surroundings, as well as the world beyond.
Currently a “museum without walls,” BCM sees more than 15,000 Bronx residents annually. Through innovative mobile programming, BCM engages children and adults in the arts and sciences using its purple bus as a roving learning environment. The Museum has temporary exhibits and ongoing afterschool and summer programming throughout the borough at community-based organizations, schools, shelters, libraries, local festivals and parks. It is one of a few cultural institutions in the Bronx geared toward young children, especially those children and families who cannot afford, or would not normally visit, a museum.
With the Museum set to begin construction in a former power plant in the South Bronx, it will always get its inspiration for its exhibits and outreach programs from the Bronx and its children.
Read more on the Bronx Children’s Museum in this NY Times artcile: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/nyregion/adrift-for-years-bronx-childrens-museum-finds-a-place-to-park-its-purple-bus.html?emc=eta1&_r=1
For more information on the Museum, contact Richard Stein, BCM Board Member, at email@example.com or Nicole Wallace, STEAM Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.