Explore and More to Open Children's Museum in Canalside

May 9, 2012 Updated May 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM EDT

By WKBW News

May 9, 2012 Updated May 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (release) - Explore & More Children’s Museum proposal to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to operate a children’s museum at Canalside has been accepted, and the museum can begin work on developing the new children’s museum for Buffalo to open in 2016.

Explore & More’s vision for a new museum of 25,000 net square feet at Canalside includes a centerpiece exhibit highlighting the Erie Canal, complemented with major exhibits such as The World Around Buffalo, Building Curiosity: Inside Architecture, Local Foods, Let’s Get Physical, Make It Go! and much more.

The museum is expected to welcome at lest 130,000 visitors annually and plans to have indoor and outdoor learning experiences for families of all ages. Details of the vision of exhibits and programs are attached.

Explore & More currently serves nearly 50,000 Western New Yorkers each year ¾ welcoming 40,000 children and adults to the museum’s East Aurora site and presenting programs to another 10,000 children and families throughout the region. As the area’s only museum designed for children ¾ and the region’s only successful children’s museum ¾ Explore & More has nearly 20 years experience in developing exhibits and programs for the whole family.

Explore & More ¾ founded as a grassroots organization by a group of parents, educators and designers ¾ first opened in the basement of a school in 1994 and served only 1500 people in 500 square feet of space during that year. The museum has steadily and strategically grown since that time. Explore & More is a four-time recipient of Federal Institute of Museum & Library Services grants (among the most competitive in the nation), as well as an awarding-winning institution on the national and local level.

The museum will first be entering master planning, and then finalizing exhibit concepts and shaping the new museum at Canalside. Explore & More welcomes community involvement in this exciting planning phase, and encourages volunteers to help craft the vision for Explore & More at Canalside.

- more -

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact Barbara Park Leggett 655-5131 x 12 or 200-8162

Explore & More Children’s Museum’s

Exhibit Vision at Canalside

For the new children’s museum at Canalside, Explore & More’s staff and volunteers have developed a number of creative concepts for what a new museum could include.

Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal – Image available

At the core would be an engaging interactive Erie Canal exhibit. This exhibit will be designed for everyone — from very young children to seniors. Visitors will be able to make locks work, move barges down the canal and even get a taste of Niagara Falls. Surrounding the centerpiece of the canal will be hands-on history — connecting to Buffalo’s past — and innovative ideas for shaping Buffalo’s future.

Windows on WNY – Image available

Visitors will be able to shape Buffalo’s future as they use the museum’s first interactive window exhibit. Throughout Explore & More, window exhibits will allow visitors to change their view on the scenery around the museum using pieces similar to Colorforms® and screens that can be raised, lowered or moved. Each window will provide different activities to complement nearby exhibits as well as the views surrounding the museum.

Building Curiosity – Photo available

Building, designing, hammering, sawing and more keep kids coming back to this classic children’s museum exhibit. Visitors can work on the cross-section of a house. A Frank Lloyd Wright-style studio helps share a bit of Buffalo architectural history, while nearby, little kids move cars and boats around a mini DL&W Building, Central Terminal and grain elevators. The entire family enjoys builder boards where they can create their own houses. In the new exhibit, visitors will get to do all this and much more — especially as they design and create buildings for the future of Buffalo and its neighborhoods.

Buffalo Around the World and In Our Neighborhoods

Explore the cultures of Buffalo’s native populations and immigrants. Based on the museum’s current Culture Corner exhibit and on relationships built with local communities, Buffalo Around the World will help children understand the world and our community better. They will explore the cultures of Buffalo throughout history and the many exciting neighborhoods throughout the region today.

Food for Thought – Photo available

Explore & More’s popular food exhibit will be the foundation for an even larger and more interactive exhibit on local foods and flavors. Classic exhibit components — the farm, lake, market and kitchen — will highlight the Farm-to-Table movement. New exhibits looking at food manufacturing in Buffalo and nutrition will meet families’ growing need to understand a healthier lifestyle as childhood obesity escalates.

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical is currently a weekend program at Explore & More that could easily be expanded into exhibits encouraging physical play and fitness — both indoors and outside at Canalside. Kids can have fun while they get fit with interactive exhibits that challenge their large-motor skills. Climbing, riding, running, and even indoor “ice” rinks (that just need socks to glide) could be part of the fun. Settings around the exhibit can reflect Buffalo — from sports teams to nearby hiking opportunities.

Make It Go! – Photo Available

Make It Go! includes a variety of challenges that kids and adults can complete with golf balls — try the Roller Coaster, Loop-the-Loop, Totally Tubular and more. A nearby pretend-play area features cars, boats and other means of transportation. Based on the popular Raceways exhibit of the Boston Children’s Museum, Make It Go! is a favorite with visitors of all ages.

Exploration ROCKS!

Exploration ROCKS! features hands-on rock and gem activities, creative core sampling and fossil exploration. While exploring, kids can go rock climbing, or paint with water on slate. Building upon this concept, Explore & More at Canalside could explore the geological history of Western New York and the Niagara Escarpment as well as look at the effects of water on rocks.

Musical Feast

Music and instruments are currently incorporated throughout Explore & More and would continue to be part of the museum experience. In a separate sound-proof room, visitors could dive into the rich musical heritage of Western New York. It would also feature instruments around the world and instruments made for fun.

Baby Spaces

Explore & More’s youngest visitors can also have a place of their own. Since its inception, Explore & More has always had special spaces and activities for infants and toddlers. Working with national fabricators, these spaces are custom-designed to meet the museum’s needs. These special spaces will include an infant obstacle course (perfect for crawling babies), mirrors and grab bars for those just learning to walk and action-reaction exhibits for toddlers to better understand how the world works. Throughout the museum, Explore & More will also provide special spaces for parents of infants. This will include a place for nursing mothers and changing tables.

Quiet Time

Kids of all ages often need a break from the fun, and Explore & More plans to incorporate “quiet spaces” throughout the exhibit area at Canalside. Soft furnishings, dimmed lighting, and relaxing activities help children calm themselves, which can be very important for children on the autism disorder spectrum.

One of the most exciting aspects of creating a children’s museum is getting public input and suggestions. Explore & More has found that volunteers, parents and others often have unique suggestions that improve original concepts or are the spark needed for a new exhibit idea. The museum has always been open to this type of creative input and will continue to encourage it throughout the planning process. These concepts have been developed by museum staff, Board, volunteers, and members of the community, but they are only the beginning of the process.