A new museum for the Chippewa Valley’s little ones took a big step toward becoming a reality recently when ground was broken for the new and improved Children’s Museum of Eau Claire on North Barstow Street. Youngsters in hard hats were joined by local dignitaries to ceremonial turn over some dirt on Sept. 30 on what’s nicknamed the “Liner Site,” between the North Barstow parking ramp and the street.
Earlier in September, museum CEO Michael McHorney said about 60% of the funds it needs to raise have been pledged – about $5.7 million of the museum’s goal of $9.7 million. The total cost of the new museum will be approximately $12.6 million, McHorney said, a total that includes $2.9 million in federal new market tax credits that the project expects to receive.
“It really is an investment in our community,” McHorney said of the new museum, which is expected to open in November 2022 at 126 N. Barstow St. “It is an investment in our downtown, which has seen so much happen when it comes to revitalization in the last several years. And we’ve certainly been a part of that with our former location, and now with this new location we will continue to help sustain all of that wonderful redevelopment, revitalization, and growth that has happened in our community.”
Plans call for a two-story, 26,000-square-foot facility that will feature the kinds of hands-on educational exhibits the museum was known for at its original location, 220 S. Barstow St. That site closed permanently last year amid the pandemic. This spring, a smaller, temporary version of the museum, called Play Space, opened in the Haymarket Landing building, 40 S. Barstow St. McHorney said Play Space will remain open until the new museum is ready to welcome visitors. Learn more about the museum and its fundraising plans at childrensmuseumec.com.