Macomb Daily Press Release about the Macomb Children's Hands On Museum
Hands-on children's museum in Mt. Clemens?
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
By Amanda Lee - Macomb Daily
Several education enthusiasts from Mount Clemens have joined together in an effort to bring a hands-on children’s museum to the city.
Led by Monika Rittner and Thomas Gray, the group is seeking funds to form an exploratory committee to see if the idea is feasible.
“Macomb County is one of the few counties around here that doesn’t have a children’s museum,” Rittner said. “Wayne and Oakland counties both have museums, as does Washtenaw and Genesee County. It’s just when you come to Macomb County, we have nothing.”
The committee is asking for $1,000 from 40 donors — called the “First Forty”— to launch the feasibility study, which costs $40,000.
“The first donors are always important to a project like this,” Rittner said. “Our First Forty will have a special place on the wall of the museum down-the-road because we want to acknowledge them for sticking with us from the beginning.”
A hands-on museum is geared towards children from birth to age 10.
“We want to focus on early childhood learning and experiences,” Rittner said. “The main goal is for children to learn how to interact with their environment, how to associate themselves with their surroundings.”
While it’s still early in the process for specifics, Rittner says that examples of other children’s museum displays that have proven popular include grocery stores, Lego building stations and even magnet construction areas.
“Science is a big part of hands-on children’s museums,” Rittner said.
In a letter sent to homeowners, Arthur F. Mullen of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority, urged residents to participate because similar museums have proven to be a useful education tool for young children.
“The benefits of adding resources to develop early childhood experiences are countless,” he said. “Research has proven that education through play has a direct impact on cognitive development, social emotional development, physical development and executive function skills.”
Rittner believes that a children’s museum would also be a boon to local businesses, which would see increased traffic from visitors to the museums.
“As it stands now, people are going out of the county if they want to go to a museum like the one we want to put here,” she said. “We don’t want people to leave the county if they don’t have to.
“I think this would really be a benefit to the area,” she said.
While no location for the proposed museum has actually been scouted, Rittner says that the group is strongly considering Mount Clemens — not only because it’s the county seat but also because it’s centrally located.
“We do feel that Mount Clemens is a great location for us,” she said.
“Obviously, we’re a long ways away from picking a location but we have been busy doing some research.
“We were at the (Macomb Intermediate School District) and we talked to some teachers to get their take on what we should be focusing on,” she continued.
Proposed Children's Museum in Mt. Clemens would Clemens would reflect Macomb County
April 2, 2012
Detroit Free Press
by Eric Lawrence
When the proposed Macomb Children's Hands-On Museum opens, visitors can expect a uniquely local experience.
In addition to showcasing science, engineering and math, the museum will help children, primarily up to 10 years old, learn about key aspects of Macomb County's natural environment and economy, such as water and the county's connection to the Great Lakes, agriculture and advanced manufacturing, said Monika Rittner, president of the museum board.
"The museum will be a reflection of Macomb County," Rittner said. "You'll be able to feel our identity when you walk in there."
The museum could open late next year.
Rittner and others working to create the museum are now able to use the results of a $40,000 feasibility study released in March to lay out a vision for the museum and what role it should play in the community, as they prepare to kick fund-raising into high gear.
Rittner said the group needs about $10 million.
The study identifies 70 Macomb Place, the former Art-o-Craft Hallmark store in downtown Mt. Clemens, as the preferred home for the museum.
Rittner said a lease of the property appears to be the most likely arrangement; details still have to be completed. The study lists the total available space at 44,458 square feet.
The museum would be expected to generate yearly attendance rates of 50,000-100,000 visitors during the first few years.
Although only about 16,314 people live in Mt. Clemens, the study notes that 575,000 people live within 10 miles of the city's downtown.
The Anton Art Center and Crocker House Museum nearby could create a walkable museum district, and nearby businesses would get an economic boost with children's museum visitors stopping to shop and eat, the study says.
Children's museums are noted as key anchors for downtown revitalization efforts, and the study references successful museums in cities such as Madison, Wis.
Macomb County's growing population -- up 6.7% to 840,978 in the 2010 Census -- was cited as a key reason the museum would thrive.
The study also references the uncertainty over the Detroit Science Center, which closed because of a financial crisis in September, and the Detroit Children's Museum, which currently is open only for use by Detroit Public Schools students.
The study says a museum in Macomb County could see larger audiences and financial resources without a science center in Detroit.
Rittner declined to comment on the impact the situation in Detroit might have on a Macomb County museum.
Detroit Public Schools spokesman Steve Wasko said the district partnered with the Detroit Science Center to run the children's museum and would like to find a new partner so it could reopen to the public and possibly have programs in place by this summer.
Wasko noted that the Detroit Children's Museum, the country's third-oldest children's museum, benefits from its proximity to cultural institutions in Midtown such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Wasko said he would not view a children's museum in Mt. Clemens as competition.
During its last full year of public operation, about 26,000 people visited the Detroit Children's Museum, Wasko said.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: firstname.lastname@example.org