(Bronx, NY – July 12, 2017) The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) today joined Hope Harley, President of the Bronx Children’s Museum Board of Directors, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and local elected officials to break ground on a new Bronx Children’s Museum. The project, in Mill Pond Park at 725 Exterior Street near the Harlem River, will give a permanent home to the Museum organization, and also provide a children’s museum in the only borough currently lacking one.
Founded in 2005, the Bronx Children’s Museum currently provides roving educational programming to approximately 15,000 children and adults annually. The $10.3 million project is anticipated to be completed in winter 2018, and will deliver a 13,800-square-feet home with studio, office, and exhibit space. The new Museum will occupy the second floor of the former powerhouse for the Bronx Terminal Market.
The design includes multiple exhibition spaces, a studio, shared offices, restrooms, storage spaces, and a reception area. It will be LEED certified, emphasizing sustainability by allowing natural light to illuminate the building, minimizing energy consumption. The design promotes healthy living by projecting a positive, active and open environment for children and families to explore.
“The Bronx Children’s Museum will be a hub of learning and community development, where families can bring their kids to engage in safe and fun educational experiences in a space tailored to high standards of sustainability and active design. We’re very pleased to work with our partners at the Parks and Cultural Affairs to finally bring a permanent children’s museum to the Bronx,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio.
“Enriching the lives of children is one of our top priorities,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchel J. Silver, FAICP. “We could not be more thrilled to partner with this inspiring place of learning. Just like our many parks, this museum will cultivate curiosity and creativity in kids across the city.”
“Working from their now-famous school bus, the Bronx Children’s Museum has become a valuable resource for cultural and environmental education for families from across the Bronx and beyond,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “The City is proud to support this exciting project to give the Museum a permanent home, where their partnerships with local schools and community groups can grow to bring the transformative benefits of the arts and culture to even more young New Yorkers for generations to come.”
“We are beyond grateful and excited that the construction of our City-owned site can now begin,” said Museum Board President Hope Harley. “When I, along with other community members, learned a decade ago that the Bronx was the only New York City borough without a children’s museum, we were stunned. Children’s museums are valued as safe, fun, educational places where youngsters, regardless of economic status, physical ability or learning style, can play, be inspired, dream, and create in a place that reflects and takes pride in the diverse cultures, natural resources, and unique history of the Bronx. I’m proud that we have already created a new kind of museum ‘without walls’ where we see more than 15,000 children a year but I am even more thrilled and satisfied to finally have a permanent home for our children to call their own. The Museum will always operate with and without walls – and we are thrilled that will have our walls by the end of 2018!”
“Breaking ground on the Bronx Children’s Museum is the culmination of a dream several years in the making, and one that will bring increased cultural awareness to the hundreds of thousands of youth that call the borough home,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Over the last decade, the City Council has allocated more than $5.3 million toward the realization of this project, and it is thrilling to see it begin to take physical shape today. As the Council Member representing the museum’s district, and in my capacity as Speaker, I am proud to be a sponsor and supporter of this essential addition to the community.”
“The Bronx Children’s Museum has the potential to change the lives of kids throughout The Bronx by providing them with year-round programming that is both uplifting and educational. Special places like the Bronx Children’s Museum help to spark the imaginations of many of our students, and I am proud to provide this wonderful institution my continued support,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Today’s groundbreaking will be a historic event for Bronx children past, present, and the future. The children of the Bronx deserve their own children’s museum. This groundbreaking is a monumental step forward for the Bronx and I am proud to have been a catalyst by providing more than $3.6 million in funding from my office’s capital budget.”
“Today, we ensure that our Bronx children will have their own Museum that allows them the unique opportunity to dream big, express themselves and aspire to be whatever they want to be. I am beyond thrilled that today we celebrate the culmination of a long journey of hard work and labor of love to open the doors of the first ever Bronx Children’s Museum,” said Councilmember Vanessa Gibson. “This project is necessary to the cultural fabric and diversity of our great Borough and is long overdue. I am so proud to have been a big champion for our children and all their possibilities and greatest potential through this monumental project. I am grateful for the incredible commitment and partnership of all our stakeholders, elected officials, public partners, private partners, the Board of Directors, Board Chair Hope Harley and especially our Executive Director, Carla Precht for their tireless efforts, consistency and belief in the mission and vision of the Bronx Children’s Museum. Today is a great day for the Bronx and the future of our children.”
“The creation of the first ever Children’s Museum in the history of the Bronx is an important milestone in our ongoing effort to expand educational opportunities that engage local families, inspire young minds, and build upon the existing resources that our community has to offer,” said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. “The $4 million commitment that my Assembly colleagues and I won with the support of Speaker Carl E. Heastie is an invaluable investment in the future of children throughout our Borough. It will also serve to enhance recreational and economic opportunities for tourists and residents alike.”
“I am so excited to be here for the groundbreaking of the Bronx children’s Museums new location in Mill Pond Park. The Bronx Children’s Museum has served as a vital resource for Bronx children interested in learning and developing for over a decade and will now be able to more greatly fulfill that goal. The Bronx community is well served having such a vital resource for our children and we should continue to advocate and fight for that resource just as we must advocate for our children and their education. I am so pleased that the Bronx Assembly Delegation including Speaker Carl Heastie, was able to secure millions of dollars in funding to help make this great day possible,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.
Today’s groundbreaking event included Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, and City Council Member Vanessa Gibson. Sonia Manzano, formerly “Maria” of “Sesame Street,” and Museum Board Member Sunny Hostin, who is host of TV’s “The View” spoke as well. Guests were treated to a special performance by ¡Retumba!, a Bronx-based Afro-Cuban music and dance troupe that has been working with the Museum for seven years.
The design consultants for the project are O’Neil McVoy Architects and Work Architecture Company, both from Manhattan. The contractor for the project is A Quest Corporation from Brooklyn.