Packed like sardines | KidZone was at capacity Thanksgiving weekend | SierraSun.com

Packed like sardines | KidZone was at capacity Thanksgiving weekend

Special to the Sun

Courtesy Erskine PhotographyThe KidZone Museum will begin searching for bigger better digs in the new year.

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; The KidZone Museumand#8217;s featured Starfish Enterprise Exhibit along with other Museum activities captivated hundreds of children during the Thanksgiving Weekend. The Museum experienced four days of full-capacity member and visitor numbers. This marked a milestone for the year, reminding the community of the Museumand#8217;s growing popularity and its need for more space.

and#8220;Weand#8217;re increasingly seeing visitors from the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California and Incline Village who have heard about the museumand#8217;s additions like the new Outdoor Nature Center along with the featured Starfish Enterprise exhibit, and they just are thrilled to be here,and#8221; said Carol Meagher, executive director, KidZone Museum.

Even with reduced holiday hours, the Museum welcomed more than 106 visitors in a three-hour span on the day before Thanksgiving. Holiday weekend visiting reached 535 people made up of 147 families with 300 children. and#8220;This is a significant increase over the past seven years,and#8221; noted Liz Bordner, museum exhibits manager.

In the past five years, the Museum has grown from 12,000 visits a year to more than 21,000 visits a year. The Museum currently has no storage, office or classroom space. More importantly, it is often at capacity, and families wait in their cars until someone leaves before they can enter.

According to Meagher, during the upcoming year, which marks the Museumand#8217;s 20 year anniversary, the primary focus will be looking for land and funds to build a larger facility.

and#8220;The Museum just received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to hire a program supervisor who will plan programs with the Lawrence Hall of Science for our Truckee Tahoe Community. The additional of this staff member will allow me more time to focus on this exhilarating and impending project of a capital campaign,and#8221; said Meagher.

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The Museum will need to raise between three and four million dollars. Meagher realizes for a capital campaign, while this is a formidable sum, it is an attainable goal. Many capital campaigns, of any kind, start at 10 million plus.

and#8220;I feel confident that we can reach this goal, but I am not naive to fundraising; I know it will require many volunteers, donors and a lot of work. The end result will be priceless for the years to come and for my grandkids,and#8221; added Meagher.

The dream for a new building to house the KidZone Museum arouse from the need to have space for permanent exhibits, as well as its current custom changing themed educational areas. Currently, the Museum relies on dedicated and skilled volunteers who create and#8220;hand-madeand#8221; museum quality exhibits like the current and#8220;StarFish Enterprise,and#8221; an under-the-sea experience with sand play, a research submarine, structures to climb on and costumes to dress in like a bright red crab and blue shark with big white teeth. The Imagination Playground, made of big blue and#8220;somewhat softand#8221; blocks offers children an opportunity to build and#8220;fortsand#8221; to play in or structures to push down.

For years, the KidZone Museum staff and board members have traveled across the United States visiting large museums to study their professionally designed and constructed exhibits in an effort to best determine what to have here in a larger Truckee/Tahoe museum facility. KidZone Museum partners, like The Boston Childrenand#8217;s Museum and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), have phenomenal exhibits to emulate like OMSIand#8217;s Turbine Hall with a hands-on physics and technology lab.

A new Museum facility would incorporate its new outdoor nature playscape into its plan.

The Museum is dedicated to and designed for families with children up to age seven. The Museum relies on the generous support of volunteers, members, benefactors along with donations and participation in its annual. Donations also support various camps and classes, like the weekend art class that was at full capacity on Thanksgiving weekend.

For more information on how to support the KidZone Museum, please visit http://www.kidzonemuseum.org or call 530-587-KIDS.

The KidZone Museum is located at 11711 Donner Pass Road, in Truckee.