SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Children’s Museum at Saratoga is reopening after a $3.1 million move and renovation.
The museum moved from its previous location on Caroline Street to its new home in the Lincoln Bath building at Saratoga Spa State Park.
“We moved from an 8,000 square foot facility to 16,000 square feet which is huge,” executive director of the museum Sarah Smith said Monday. “It’s all hands on, most of our exhibitions have all been refurbished and built anew based on our old exhibitions and adding in some new ones.”
The museum now also includes new exhibitions such as a play farm where children can pick vegetables and a greenscreen with interactions to teach about the weather, Smith said. The museum now also includes a mock grocery store where visitors can use the fully functional scanner, an interactive fire station where guests can put out a virtual fire and a news station where children can record a news segment.
The museum is all-accessible Smith said. She explained it is designed for children of all abilities.
“We’re very excited and we’re very happy to be here, and to be able to give kids something fun to do after the pandemic,” Smith said. “They’ve been stuck inside for so long.”
The museum closed it’s previous facility on Jan. 1 and officially reopened to the public July 5 Smith said. She explained during that time, the museum did offer programs and was teaching programs in schools and libraries and at after school programs.
“It has been wonderful to see people coming to the new building,” Smith said. “Seeing some old friends and some new friends. It’s been wonderful, exceeding our expectations for sure.”
The Children’s Museum at Saratoga has moved three times in its history Smith said. She explained this is the largest move in its 33 years to the largest facility it has been at during its history, as well as the largest scale renovation project it has conducted.
Pre-pandemic, the museum saw about 35,000 children and their families each year in the old location, Smith said.
“We hope to meet or exceed that goal here at the Lincoln Bath,” Smith said. “It’s also nice not to have to worry about maintaining, we’re the tenants, we don’t have to do all the things that you do when you own your own building. So we’re super happy to being able to focus on interacting with kids and doing the things that we do best.”
The museum had owned the old facility on Caroline Street Smith said. She explained some of the funds from selling the previous property were set aside to pay for part of this renovation. The museum also received a $600,000 Empire State Development grant.
“Then we also have extremely generous local, corporate partners, Business for Good, River from America, Stewart’s, MVP, CDPHP, Adirondack Trust, Bonacio,” Smith said. “We have a lot of great people who are helping fund this as well as a number of foundations, Saratoga Foundation, Charles R. Wood Foundation and then individual people as well have been helping us.”
In total, it is a $3.5 million project Smith said. She explained they are almost all of the way to their goal of funding; the final part of the project will be to reopen the museum’s courtyard which she says they hope to do soon.
“The Children’s Museum at Saratoga’s new location adds another unique attraction to the Saratoga Spa State Park that will welcome residents and visitors alike,” Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said in a statement Monday. “Through the adaptive reuse of space within the historic Lincoln Bathhouse, the museum can embark on a new era of captivating wonder and enthusiasm for learning, and we’re proud to support this project.”
This is the first major public facing operation in the Lincoln Bathhouse since the 1990s according to an announcement about the project from Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday.
“The opening of the Children’s Museum adds another major attraction to our growing list of partners in the beautiful, natural setting of Saratoga Spa State Park,” Hochul said in a statement Monday. “The Park of the Arts initiative will continue to define Saratoga Springs as a year-round destination for world class arts programming, and this project marks a major milestone in our efforts to restore and reactivate the National Historic Landmark structures throughout the park.”
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