Bronx Children's Museum Celebrates Official Groundbreaking on Wednesday, July 12, 2017
WE'RE DIGGING THIS!
Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, Sonia Manzano, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYC Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, NYS Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio, BCM Board President Hope Harley, BCM Executive Director Carla Precht, Rose Rodriguez, Chief Diversity Officer for NYS (representative of Governor Cuomo's office), DCLA Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, and NYS Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner dig in the shovels.
Bronx, N.Y. July 12, 2017 – The Executive Director of the Bronx Children’s Museum, Carla Precht, enthusiastically announced that “Construction on our long-awaited Museum facility will begin this summer under the supervision of the NYC Department of Design and Construction. To mark this historic and joyous occasion, we were proud to host a public Groundbreaking Ceremony on Wednesday, July 12. ” The ceremony was co-organized by NYC Parks, the owner of the site, and NYC’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), which is developing the site, located at 1 E. 150th St. (725 Exterior St.) in Mill Pond Park. “This is our first major milestone and we are ecstatic!” said Precht.
"We are beyond grateful and excited that the construction of our City-owned site can now begin,” said Board President Hope Harley. “When I, along with other community members, learned a decade ago that the Bronx was the only New York City borough without a children’s museum, we were stunned. Children’s museums are valued as safe, fun, educational places where youngsters, regardless of economic status, physical ability or learning style, can play, be inspired, dream, and create in a place that reflects and takes pride in the diverse cultures, natural resources, and unique history of the Bronx. I’m proud that we have already created a new kind of museum ‘without walls’ where we see more than 15,000 children a year but I am even more thrilled and satisfied to finally have a permanent home for our children to call their own. The Museum will always operate with and without walls–and we are thrilled that we will have our walls by the end of 2018!”
“Collectively,” Precht said, “The Borough, City, and State have allocated nearly $16 million dollars in capital funding to make our dream a reality. This is truly revolutionary when you consider that the Bronx is the only borough in the City that has been without a children’s museum facility. We could not have come this far in the last ten years without the steady and dogged dedication of all our partners, including the children themselves. In addition to the capital funding we have raised with the support of our City partners, the Museum has received almost $3 million in private funds for its exhibits from anchor committed funders like the Ford Foundation, The Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation, Con Edison, and the Frederick P. & Sandra P. Rose Foundation. New York State, under the leadership of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the Bronx State Assembly Delegation, and Assemblymembers Jeffrey Dinowitz and Latoya Joyner, has also supported the Museum by allocating $4 million dollars toward the project.
BCM Executive Director Carla Precht was thrilled to host the historic event
Precht continues, “The building we are renovating was the Powerhouse for the Bronx’s original terminal market at the turn of the century. With four turrets, it looks like a castle and is located just south of Yankee Stadium, along the Harlem River. It is now a historic site with LEED certification and currently houses offices for NYC Parks as well as Stadium Tennis Center facilities, including a café that will be available to Museum visitors. Children and their caregivers will also be able to use Mill Pond Park, in which the building stands, as an extension of the Museum. The opening of our museum space, designed by O'Neill McVoy Architects, is now clearly in sight in 2018.”
Children "breaking ground" on the new Museum
¡Retumba! provided entertainment for guests
The event entailed a ceremony at which time Hope Harley, the Museum's first and only Board President, spoke, as did Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, NYS Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, NYC Council Member Vanessa Gibson, and Sonia Manzano, formerly "Maria" of Sesame Street. A proclamation from Governor Cuomo's office was also read and displayed throughout the ceremony. After the speeches, elected officials and Museum staff and board members dug in the symbolic shovels alongside the Acting Commissioner of the NYC Department of Design and Construction Ana Barrio, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, and DCLA Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl.
Children explored a 3D model of the Museum, created by O'Neill McVoy Architects
At the end of the ceremony, Carla Precht made a surprising announcement: BCM Board Member Richard Abrons (through the Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation and the Iris and Richard Abrons Foundation) recently pledged $1 million toward the Museum’s exhibits and reserve fund. “It is so beneficial to engage, inspire and encourage children at a young age,” said Abrons. “This is what the Bronx Children’s Museum offers to the 250,000 young children of the Bronx. It gives me great pleasure to support that initiative.”
After receiving this amazing news, guests at the Groundbreaking were treated to a special performance by ¡Retumba!, a Bronx-based Afro-Cuban music and dance troupe that has been working with the Museum for seven years. Guests also had the opportunity to view an architectural model and rendering of the exhibit spaces, and to tour the new space during a reception that featured goody bags for guests, a hands-on microscope station, and a beaver-topped dulce de leche cake, made by one of the Museum’s Educators.
“It will be a historic event for Bronx children past, present, and the future,” said Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. “This Bronx Children’s Museum facility was one of the first capital projects I supported when I began as the Borough President and I am ecstatic to see it is now getting off the ground. The children of the Bronx deserve their own children’s museum. The Groundbreaking is a monumental step forward for the Bronx and I am proud to have been a cat