The Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum on Thursday unveiled its future site in Buellton in a groundbreaking and groundbreaking event, with the goal of opening in the summer of 2022.
Founder Ashley Jenkins has been working on this and the opening of the open-air museum for about four years.
To publicize the project, the museum last summer organized free discovery days for children and families at the Santa Ynez Valley Botanical Garden, with activities such as building fairy houses, making adobe bricks or the game with bubbles.
“It’s so magical to see [the museum] come together, ”Jenkins said.
The Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum will be almost entirely open-air, with several sensory activities for children of all ages and abilities.
“One of the reasons I was so passionate about the museum and decided to go on board was the goal of accessibility for every family and every child in the community,” said Gerri Massey, board member administration and volunteer. “Not just the child who has no needs, but also children who have various needs and families who also have needs. There will be wheelchair accessibility, the bathrooms will be handicapped accessible, and this is something that I think is so important and needed in this community.
The museum has a fundraising goal of $ 1.5 million for construction costs and to fund the first year of operation, and it already has the support of several municipal organizations, such as Buellton City Council, the Buellton Chamber of Commerce, the City of Buellton Arts & Culture and many others, as well as at least 29 individuals and families, according to a list of donors that was on display at Thursday’s event.
The Children’s Museum also secured the land for its site, which is on the former Willemsen property, in the town of Buellton.
Jennifer Stepien, project manager at Elliot & Pohls Construction and volunteer for the Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum, holds a diagram of the site plan during a site visit as she designates an area where there will be slides descending the river. incline and climbing stations to get back up the hill. (Photo by Serena Guentz / Noozhawk)
The museum has received approximately $ 41,000 in monetary and in-kind donations and is awaiting approval for three grants that could total an additional $ 400,000, Jenkins told Noozhawk.
Jenkins said a work of art will be installed at the museum commemorating each donor. She said the room will feature a field of sunflowers, with each petal dedicated to a donor’s name.
“We are thrilled to have so much momentum so early in our development, and it would not be possible without the contribution of so much time, talent and resources from our community,” said Carolyn Dorwin, Program Director for the Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum.
Thursday’s groundbreaking event included a site tour as volunteers described the different features that will be built in each area.
The Children’s Museum will be built in three phases, with the goal of having all programs completed by the third year.
The first phase will develop the upper portion of the property, with a centerpiece being a recirculating water feature with a shallow wading area.
“One of our flagship exhibits that we’re going to put together is this rain gazebo that will have a little riverbed that flows into a little pond and then it will recycle the water,” Dorwin said. “It will reproduce the water cycle for the children.”
Other features of the first phase include a native plant and herb garden, culturally themed playhouses, dirt kitchen, spare parts play station, and a mini Tonka truck area.
In the first phase, will also be one of the only interior structures of the museum that will be used for a reading area and rotating activity tables. The other interior structure will be a small office and a check-in machine.
The diagram of the site plan of the future children’s museum of the Santa Ynez Valley. (Graphic provided)
The second phase will develop the lower part, with slides going down the slope and climbing stations to go up the hill, as well as more playhouses.
The third phase will develop more land on the lower part and make all the programs work, with the possibility of creating a program for school trips.
The Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum will also include an evening pre-teens and teens program, with less structure and more safe space for them to relax, watch movies, or form clubs.
Jenkins said the teen and pre-teen program will hopefully start a few nights each week.
“We’ll provide them with that safe space just to pique their curiosity,” Jenkins said.
She added that the museum will provide a club system and structure; however, this will allow older children to focus on the clubs.
The Santa Ynez Valley Children’s Museum will be located at 202 Dairyland Road in Buellton and aims to open with the completion of the first phase in the summer of 2022.
More information, including information on donations and support for the museum, can be found on its website by clicking here.
“It comes to life,” Jenkins said. “It’s really exciting.”