Children’s Museum seeks to add more space

BROWNSVILLE — To accommodate the large number of visitors the Brownsville Children’s Museum receives on a yearly basis, officials are looking to expand the facility in order to add more programs and storage space.

Children’s Museum Executive Director Felipe Peña said, during the past year, the Children’s Museum has had more than 63,000 visitors, the museum’s highest attendance rate in years.

“Normally a museum that’s having as many visitors as we have should be between 15,000 to 25,000 square feet, and we only have 7,500 square feet on the inside,” Peña said.

The Children’s Museum is at 10,500 square feet, which includes the exhibit it has outside.

James Walker, Children’s Museum executive assistant, conducted a survey during the summer and asked parents if the museum would benefit from having more space available. About 92 percent said yes.

“I like to think of (the museum) as small but mighty,” Peña said. “Our programming, our effectiveness in the community, is up to par with the biggest museums out there; with New York’s children museums, with Boston, with Indianapolis, all the big guys, (but) we’re just small. We do an amazing job when it comes to programming (and) when it comes to creating ripple effects in the community.”

The Children’s Museum offers interactive and creative exhibits, workshops and special events to children and families of the Rio Grande Valley. Also, it offers field trip packages that are geared for PreK through second-grade classes. Science, technology, engineering, art and math field trips are available for third- through fifth-grade classes.

Officials hope to increase the museum space by 300 square feet and the celebration room by 800 square feet. Also, they are looking to add 200 square feet for storage, convert an office back into a storage room and create two new offices.

The expansion includes three phases and will take between 8 to 12 months to complete.

The museum staff plans to use this year to write grants and fundraise for the $508,000 expansion project, then start construction in 2019 and complete it in 2020.