The Albion children’s museum in full “resurgence”


ALBION, Mich. (AP) – A mother and 4-year-old son waited patiently for the opening of the Kid ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum on a cold fall afternoon.

Walking through doors decorated with cartoon children, Hudson Coblentz pretended to shop in the museum’s Felpausch grocery store before heading to a 15-foot-high tube wall, where he was greeted by the Kids ‘N’ Stuff Executive Director Mike Boudro. .

“It’s the wall of air,” Boudro explained. “If the ball doesn’t go all the way, close the doors.”

Nearby, a team finished assembling a new water table that arrived following a $ 125,000 fundraising campaign, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer. The unveiling of the water table was a moment of celebration for the Children’s Museum in downtown Albion, which went extinct twice during the pandemic.

When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, it had not yet been determined that respiratory droplets were the primary mode of transmission of the virus. While contact surfaces still pose a lower risk of transmission, it was initially feared that practical museums would have a bleak future.

As the pandemic continues, Kid ‘N’ Stuff continues to take on some challenges, led by Boudro, who joined in May. Masks are mandatory for all guests and the play areas are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

“Most of the time, I’m a one-man show,” Boudro said. “It’s usually nothing I can’t handle. Some days are crazier than others. But it is a museum for children, who are naturally chaotic.

Kid ‘N’ Stuff was founded by Rebecca Mitchell, wife of former Albion College president Peter Mitchell, and incorporated in 2000. After a fundraising campaign of $ 600,000, it officially opened in September 2020 in the old JCPenney building after the building was donated by Albion College. Other than general support, the college has no financial connection with the museum.

According to the Children’s Museums Association, Kids ‘N’ Stuff is one of 10 children’s museums in Michigan. The closest are the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, the Curious Kids Museum in St. Joseph and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. In Calhoun County, Kids ‘N’ Stuff is helping fill the void as the Kingman Museum of Natural History and World Cultures in Battle Creek is currently on the hunt for a new home.

Kids ‘N’ Stuff was shut down as a non-essential business at the start of the pandemic and laid off its small workforce, while the board continued to maintain systems in the joint buildings. The museum reopened to the public in June 2020, but attendance fell behind schedule, so the board decided in August that the building “hibernate” until it reopens on June 26 of this year.

“People were comfortable outside and not yet comfortable inside,” said Caroline Hurteau, vice-chair of the board. “So the board made the very difficult decision to go into hibernation.”

Since reopening for the second time, the museum has seen an increase in attendance, including birthday parties and school trips.

Hurteau said some of the tax challenges hit by the pandemic involved increasing the price of admission, now to $ 7 per person, although the nonprofit is offering a discounted entry of $ 1.50 for people receiving public assistance such as an EBT or Bridge card as well as members of the Huron band of Nottawaseppi of the Potawatomi.

“We want to make sure that the cost of the museum is not a barrier for people entering,” Boudro said. “Museums are for everyone and fun is for everyone. So come in and play.

Among other changes, the Kids ‘N’ Stuff board of directors is currently looking for candidates to join in January. Hurteau said it was an exciting time for the museum as it appears to continue to play a role in the momentum for the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Albion.

“We’re heading towards what I feel is a resurgence of the museum,” Hurteau said. “It’s been 20 years since we did it, and what can our next 20 years be? It would be a real loss to Albion and the greater region if Kids ‘N’ Stuff ceased to exist. And, from a personal perspective regarding the other work I’m doing here in town, Kids ‘N’ Stuff was the first place to invest in downtown Albion, as they committed to taking a building. vacant 20 years ago and have spent many years being the only thing in downtown Albion.

The water table was paid for in part by a matching $ 37,500 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs that was awarded in the fall of 2019, followed by funding provided by a team of philanthropists and foundations. local. After some delays due to supply chain issues, the water attraction is finally ready to be explored and enjoyed by young people.

“We’ve waited long enough for this water table,” Bourdo said. “It’s time for us to sit down and play with it.


About Carlos V. Mitchell

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