Arts and Entertainment

KiDiMu readies for its new digs

KiDiMu Executive Director Susan Sivitz explains aspects of the new facility on a site tour March 17.  - Connie Mears/Staff Photo
KiDiMu Executive Director Susan Sivitz explains aspects of the new facility on a site tour March 17.
— image credit: Connie Mears/Staff Photo


Staff Writer

Youngsters need a time out now and then to refocus their energy. The almost-5-year-old KiDiMu will take a two-month hiatus, not for misbehavin’, but to focus all its energy on creating a new play-centric space at its new location.

After this weekend’s events, including Member Appreciation Days on Saturday and Sunday, KiDiMu will close its doors March 29 to work toward its grand opening in early June.

“I took the tour last week, and I almost cried,” said Cheryl Dale, KiDiMu’s first executive director and the head of the capital campaign project to raise funds for the new space.

“I knew it was going to be great, but to see it was something else,” she said.

A tour of the new facility is available at 3:15 p.m. Wednesdays with advance notice by calling 855-4650.

Longtime fan and supporter of KiDiMu Marian Rees took a tour March 17.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed and awed by the vision shown here.”

The vision is a 5,078-square-foot space (with another 800-foot outdoor play area) which will house 11 exhibits instead of the current two.

For the museum, which serves about 28,000 small visitors a year, including 5,000 free passes and free entry to lower income school districts, the new space will expand capacity by 7,452 visits per year.

The centerpiece will be a pirate ship treehouse set on a three-ton tree stump, and will tower one-and-a-half stories near the museum’s foyer. “Our Town” is a child-scaled community where kids can engage in make believe at the grocery store, bank or medical center. In the Science Hall, kids can discover things about math, science and engineering through hands-on exhibits. An art center upstairs will host art and music classes and birthday parties for kids. Totally Tots will be a padded play space for younger ages, expanding services to a wider age-range. The Rainforest exhibit will introduce visitors to wild creatures and ecosystems.

“We are big believers in the power of play,” said Susan Sivitz, KiDiMu’s current executive director.

Sivitz has a secret wish for an additional exhibit: a walk-on only (and dry-docked) ferry for kids to play on.

“It’s not in our budget I’m afraid.”

On that topic, Dale is busy beating the bushes for donors who want to help the museum into the fund-raising homestretch.

The original goal of $2.3 million was set in early 2008. The community rallied, and by October of that year, it had already raised $1.8 million. And then, as everyone knows, the bottom dropped out of the economy, leaving a balance of roughly $350,000 still to be raised.

“Not another donation for six months,” Dale said.

Things have started to percolate again and the museum has devised some affordable ways for people to participate.

For $50, a child can make a tile, complete with handprint, that will adorn the entry wall. For businesses, a $500 donation will get its logo engraved onto a paver, and a $1,000 donation buys a 12-inch by 12-inch spot on the donor wall.

For more information about KiDiMu, to schedule a tour, or make a donation, call 855-4650 or visit

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