The expERIEnce Children’s Museum (ECM) celebrated the ceremonial ground breaking on the first phase of the new museum earlier today in Erie, Pennsylvania. Construction is underway on the new expERIEnce Children’s Museum located on the corner of 5th and French Street in Downtown Erie and will include a 35,000 square foot state of the art facility featuring 150+ hands-on exhibits, 25+ museum dedicated parking spaces, and extended programming and exhibits for children over age 8. Leaders from the community, government officials, ECM representatives, and most importantly, local children, used their shovels to break ground and share in this momentous occasion.
“We are thrilled to be moving forward with what began as a dream for our community. When completed, we will have a world-class museum for our children and future generations of children in Erie.” Brosig, who grew up in Erie, has been working on this project since 2016 – conducting feasibility studies, planning with education and design teams, leading fundraising efforts, hosting community events for children, and raising awareness about the project throughout Erie. ECM has received significant funding backing from the community, including signature sponsors: Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth grant, Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), and the Erie Community Foundation. The combined $8 million support has helped launch the project, which has gathered momentum since its start in 2016.
ECM’s leadership has used the expertise and experience of operating the children’s museum in consort with the local leadership to bring together top exhibit designers, architects, engineers, contractors, and landscape architects to arrive at the final plans for construction. “When designing the building and exhibits, we sought input from community partners and educational experts in Erie and across the state,” explained Brosig. “Our exhibits are designed based on key initiatives including expanding the accessibility of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) knowledge, contribute to the revitalization and desirability of the city core, and to serve as a community hub where children and families from diverse backgrounds interact, share, and get to know each other. Aspects of the cultural arts and Erie heritage will also be incorporated throughout the museum – for example, we were able to weave into our exhibit plans the rich narrative of people in Erie.”
ECM has been recognized as Erie’s best museum for 5 consecutive years, since 2016, and expanding its reach was a natural progression for the institution. The new museum build has a total projected cost of $18 million with two-thirds of the funds already raised. Money raised has been facilitated by ECM’s Full STEAM Ahead Capital Campaign cabinet, headed by Tim and Lisa NeCastro.
The new expERIEnce Children’s Museum is expected to open in late 2024; and upon opening, is planning to see over 130,000 visitors a year with a roughly $4.1 million-dollar economic effect on the community from a combination of direct spending as calculated by AECOM and MR/ProFun. The museum will also create roughly 170 jobs during construction and approximately 28 full-time equivalent and 28 part-time museum staff positions. As the construction and operations phases of the museum move forward, fundraising for this project is ongoing.