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$2.8 million for children’s museum

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Former borough president Adolfo Carrion Jr.’s most controversial project made headlines last week; the new Yankee Stadium debuted. Carrion’s least controversial project got a boost last week; the Bronx Children’s Museum received $2.8 million in capital funds and could open soon.

Hope Harley, president of the museum’s board, thanked Carrion and acting borough president Earl Brown. Carrion left the Bronx in February for a position in President Obama’s cabinet. Harley will appeal to Ruben Diaz Jr., elected borough president on Tuesday.

“[The $2.8 million] made our day – made our year,” she said. “We knew [Carrion] had set aside money for the museum, but we didn’t know how much. We’re ecstatic.”

Carrion promised the borough a children’s museum in 2005. The Bronx is NYC’s youngest borough; 30 percent of its 1.4 million residents are under 18. It is also the only borough without a children’s museum. According to Bronx Council on the Arts director and museum board member Bill Aguado, children’s museums are interactive, educational and fun. They promote literacy and help children acquire important life skills. Harley has served on the museum’s board since 2005. Until a site is chosen, Harley and her fellow board members want to run a “mobile museum.” Next month, the museum will partner with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children to offer workshops on storytelling and puppet making.

Where and when the museum will open remains unknown. It could settle into a parks department building at E. 153rd Street. The historic building was recently rehabilitated and is part of the planned Harlem River Waterfront Park. Parks Department offices, a café and a locker room will occupy the building’s first floor. Its 12,900-square foot second floor is up for grabs.

“We want to be there,” Harley said. “The park is going to be wonderful, right across from the new [Gateway Center] mall.”

According to Harley, the Bronx Children’s Museum will resemble other children’s museums. It will boast interactive exhibits: a post office, a firehouse, a supermarket.

“It’s not just play shopping, it’s a learning experience,” Harley said. “There are fruits to learn, colors and shapes.”

But the Bronx Children’s Museum will emphasize literacy and celebrate the borough’s diverse cultures as well. A board member recently visited Puerto Rico’s children’s museum and enjoyed an exhibit on musical instruments native to the island.

“We’re going to focus on children six and under,” Harley said.

According to Harley, the museum is “capital rich, but operationally poor” and is in search of additional funding. Ask to join the museum’s email list, bxcminfo@gmail.com.

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