Bronx Children's Museum Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Celebrates NYC's Newest Cultural Institution
Extraordinary lineup of Bronx leaders, friends and supporters celebrate the opening of the first children’s museum facility in the borough
Thanks to everyone who made the event a success!
Local electeds, city officials, funders and special guests gathered to cut the ribbon of the first children’s museum in the Bronx prior to its public opening on December 3. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
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After more than 12 years of providing quality enrichment programs to children throughout the Bronx as a museum “without walls,” Bronx Children’s Museum held a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday, November 16, to celebrate the upcoming public opening of its new facility on Saturday, December 3. The Museum, located at 725 Exterior Street along the Harlem River, hosted an extraordinary lineup of Bronx leaders, friends and supporters to celebrate the opening of the first children’s museum facility in the borough.
The Museum was joined by local electeds, city officials, architects and members of the community to celebrate the completion of a $16.841 million project to create a new and permanent home for the Museum.
Carla Precht, Founding Executive Director said, “Today marks a new chapter for all Bronx children. Using a framework of early childhood enrichment and social justice, the Museum provides bridges to imagination, ladders to knowledge and safe places for children to have fun and just be children.”
Welcome area. Photo: NYC DDC / Matthew Lapiska
The Museum features interactive exhibits where families can play, learn and connect to the natural and cultural resources in the Bronx through art, dramatic role-play and scientific exploration. In tandem with the exhibits, the Museum features the Arts Builds Community Collection – site-specific artworks by Bronx-connected fine artists, directly inspired by the natural environment of the Bronx, its rich history, music and culture and, most importantly, children in the Museum’s Little Friends of the Museum Program.
“Architects O’Neill McVoy understood just what we envisioned from the beginning,” continued Precht, “– a combination of a fine arts museum space and a children’s museum that emulates a natural landscape with all its beauty, twists and turns, surprises and diversity. The space reflects the fluidity of water which is an overarching theme throughout the Museum exhibits, space, experiences and programming.”
Sonia Manzano (“Maria” from Sesame Street) served as the host of the event. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
Actor, author and longtime friend of the Museum, Sonia Manzano (“Maria” from Sesame Street) served as the host of the event. “Opening this Museum building has been a labor of love for so many of us for so long. I’ve dedicated my career—as an actor, an author, and now, as the creator of Alma’s Way—to the principle that children naturally learn when they are having fun, feel valued and have agency. Visitors will immediately appreciate the encompassing physical beauty, interactive experiences, attention to detail and respect for all that is The Bronx.”
Prior to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, the Museum unveiled “Sonia’s Corner,” which houses an array of children’s books and family-friendly resources, in honor of both Sonia Manzano and fellow Bronx native U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor.
Speakers included: Adolfo Carríon Jr., Commissioner, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and former Bronx Borough President 2002-2009; Rubén Díaz Jr., Senior Vice President - Strategic Initiatives, Montefiore Health System and former Bronx Borough President, 2009-2021; Hon. Vanessa L. Gibson, Bronx Borough President; Hon. Diana Ayala, NYC Council Deputy Speaker, District 8; Sue Donoghue, Commissioner, NYC Parks; Laurie Cumbo, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Hon. José M. Serrano, NYS Senator, District 29 and Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation; and Salvatore Cali, Deputy Commissioner of Public Buildings, NYC Department of Design and Construction.
Board President Arlene Lewis Bascom recounted, “I grew up in the Bronx. I am the daughter of immigrants and a resident. I cannot express how proud I am to be here today. Many Bronx children lack access to affordable arts and multicultural programming in their community. It was true for me growing up here in the Bronx. We’re changing that with this new building, and our programming as we continue to reach children in schools, shelters and the community. Research shows that children’s museums such as ours provide children with the freedom to express themselves, become better communicators, learn to problem solve, build confidence and think creatively. This Museum shows Bronx children that they matter and their community matters.”
Founding Museum Board President Hope Harley, who also spoke at the event, added, “What began as a dream almost 15 years ago is now a reality. Today we have a children’s museum located in and rooted in the Bronx—its people, places, environment and history. We are now able to invite children and families to the building, as well as go out into the neighborhoods to engage them where they are–in schools and at public events. We are truly and finally a Museum “with and without walls.”
Bronx Children’s Museum expects to engage more than 23,000 children in the building during its first year alone.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
“Today’s opening of Bronx Children’s Museum is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to bringing much needed resources to our residents and families,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. "I was an avid supporter of this project in the City Council and I am proud to see it come to fruition in my role as Borough President. This project will give The Bronx a cultural resource center dedicated to providing our children an opportunity to dream big, express themselves and aspire to be whatever they want to be. I am grateful for the incredible commitment and partnership of all our stakeholders, elected officials, public partners, private partners, the Board of Directors, Former Board Chair Hope Harley and especially our Executive Director, Carla Precht, for their tireless efforts, consistency and belief in the mission and vision of Bronx Children's Museum.”
Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo presented Board President Arlene Bascom Lewis and Founding Executive Director Carla Precht with an official Proclamation from the Mayor Eric Adams’ office proclaiming November 16, 2022, Bronx Children’s Museum Ribbon Cutting Day.
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, right, reads and presents a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office to Board President Arlene Lewis Bascom and Founding Executive Director Carla Precht. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
“Art uplifts and empowers our young people, grows their imaginations and boosts their confidence like nothing else can,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “That's why every child deserves the opportunity to experience first-rate cultural programming, and why we're so proud of our investment in the Bronx Children's Museum's new home in Mill Pond Park. We encourage families from across the Bronx and beyond to visit this exciting new addition to NYC's family-friendly cultural offerings. I will be among the first in line with my own son, Prince, who already toured the museum space while it was under construction and can't wait to come back to see the newest children's museum on the block. The children of the Bronx deserve this museum, and I'm proud to be the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs as we cut the ribbon on this amazing new space.”
NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
Sue Donoghue, Commissioner of NYC Parks said, “We are just so thrilled at the Parks Department because this Museum is a partner of ours, literally and in spirit. Housed on New York City Parks property, in a former powerhouse; Bronx Children’s Museum is, in fact a powerhouse. It provides children with interactive places to learn and play, having operated without and now with walls. As we heard, these interactive spaces are so important for all of us, all of our kids, all across the city. Like Parks, this new Museum space will advance equity, education and partnership, and give kids in the Bronx the Museum space they deserve. And we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this accomplishment and this partnership today. For years, the Museum has met kids where they are: visiting schools in the community, using a big purple bus as a mobile learning environment. At Parks, we know how important recreational spaces are for children, giving them places to grow and play safely; teaching them new skills [and] stimulating their minds. This milestone ribbon cutting is the culmination of years of hard work.”
Photo: Bronx Children’s Museum
After the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, officials and guests enjoyed a tour of the Museum’s exhibits, artwork and its outstanding architectural features.
“With this ribbon cutting we are adding another jewel in the crown of our Borough as we celebrate the opening of Bronx Children’s Museum,” Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner said. “The public money invested in this wonderful Museum will be paid back many times over as this Museum inspires countless children and youth to reach for the stars and truly achieve their dreams.” “The Bronx has gone far too long as the only borough without a permanent Children’s Museum and now that ends. Today’s ribbon cutting signifies the delivery of a much-needed investment for children in the Bronx,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We’re very pleased to be able to provide this great facility and we look forward to it being used and enjoyed for decades to come.”
Additional Moments from the Ceremony
Former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. high fives Sonia Manzano after the unveiling of "Sonia's Corner." Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia.
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. Photo: Keyz2Life Media.
Former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia.
NYC Council Deputy Speaker, District 8, Diana Ayala. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia.
3...2...1: Sonia Manzano cuts the ribbon, marking the latest milestone for the Museum. Video: Chris Fig Productions.
Several children enjoyed playing in the exhibits after the ceremony. Here, a child has fun catching fish in the Harlem River boat ride. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia.