Museum Officials Seek Public Input on Ambitious Plan

By SETH WALLACE swallace@palltimes.com | 

OSWEGO — The Children's Museum Of Oswego (CMOO) has embarked on the next phase of its effort to secure a permanent home in downtown Oswego and is inviting the greater Oswego community to weigh in on its direction.

 

Founded in 2013, CMOO provides interactive, educational exhibits for children and their families. Designed to fill what organizers felt was a gap in such opportunities for this area, the museum was housed for a short period in 2014 on the first and second floors of 7 West Bridge St.

According to CMOO Executive Director Jillian Shaver, the museum's goal would lease, remodel and create an 8,000 square foot location at that same location, the first of its kind in the greater Oswego-Fulton area.

Since earlier this year, CMOO has been working with a design firm to conceptualize what it is calling an "informal, indoor space where children can play, learn and be active." According to Shaver, those designs are now finished and ready to be unveiled.

"We have had a great deal of support and encouragement from parents, educators and the general community," said Shaver. "We are thrilled to be able to present a detailed vision of what the museum will look like for the community to see." The 8,000 square foot space would include exhibits celebrating local industry, history and natural resource of the Oswego area, as well as a water-play area, weather cycle exhibit, and other areas exploring energy generation.

According to Shaver, the two-story museum would also include spaces for a birthday party room and programming rooms, dedicated to revolving educational and instructional activities.

In addition to the value of having a safe space where children can "use their creativity while developing their imaginations," Shaver says the museum would provide significant other benefits. "[Children's museums] improve the quality of life in their communities," she said. "CMOO will not only help us promote our area to families, it will attract visitors who spend money at local businesses." With a firm mission and preliminary designs in place, CMOO will now turn its attention to community involvement. Over the upcoming weeks, it will be conducting a capital campaign planning study to evaluate strategy for achievable goals, gauge community support and increase awareness of the project.

According to Shaver and John Knape of the consulting firm The Steier Group, the study will give the museum a blueprint moving forward for the planned expansion. The proposed total goal for the capital project would be approximately $2.4 million for the costs of exhibits, renovation and start-up expenses.

"We want to make sure our mission is in line with community goals," said Shaver.

The museum received grants earlier this year to make the funding of the study possible with financial assistance coming from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation and Exelon.

CMOO was also included in the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council's 2015 progress report, which recommends regional innovative projects to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development for consideration of support.

CMOO is asking residents of Oswego County to participate in an online survey about the museum's plan available atwww.steiergroup.com/client-login/and selecting "Children's Museum of Oswego," using the password "Oswego." More information on the Children's Museum of Oswego can be found at www.cmoo.org.