Children’s museum finds a site

The Chronicle (Centralia)February 17, 2014 

The Discover Children’s Museum, a pilot project for the past year, has identified an acre lot on Northwest Louisiana Avenue in front of Home Depot in Chehalis for a permanent full-scale museum.

The Chehalis City Council has unanimously agreed to direct city staff to work out details of a lease agreement for the permanent museum, which will be on city property.

Groundbreaking for the new museum is not expected until next year.

Children’s Museum Advisory Group Chairman Larry McGee said the museum is proposing a 20-year lease with options to extend it for six additional five-year terms, to total 50 years.

Organizers will use the coming year to spearhead a fundraising campaign focused on private contributions and grants to fund the new museum.

The museum’s estimated cost is $3 million.

The Children’s Museum Advisory Group, which operates under the nonprofit Friends of the Chehalis Community Renaissance, is considering renting some of the space to early childhood development programs and preschools.

“It could be the best thing we do in the Renaissance,” McGee said.

The experimental pilot museum opened in the Twin City Town Center last February for a six-month trial run that was later extended through December. More than 14,600 adults and children had paid admission to the museum, nearly tripling projected attendance.

The pilot museum closed Dec. 29.

Organizers project 22,000 paid guests per year once the permanent museum opens.

The new museum is expected to be about 18,000 square feet larger than the 3,300 square-foot rented space for the pilot project.

The advisory board is also eying a 1.5-acre plot of land next to the proposed museum for outdoor activities. The open lot is designated as park space. McGee said the museum would be willing to maintain the space next to the building and use it for outdoor play.

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