The groundbreaking deadline for the Knock Knock Children’s Museum has been a moving target for years, but the leader of the future attraction said Wednesday that construction will begin by December.
Staci Duhé, executive director of the museum, updated the Baton Rouge Rotary Club on the project’s status. To date, the museum has raised $8.6 million which fully funds construction costs and the first phase of exhibits.
“Everything is ready to roll, the building has been designed, the construction documents have been created, the only step next is to put a shovel in the dirt,” she said.
The construction contract has not yet been put out to public bid.
All of the funding for the museum has come from grants, donations and foundations. It’s been a 10 year process in the making, and Duhé said they still need to raise funds for additional exhibits.
Construction of the building and its exhibits will take about a year and a half, so the museum won’t be ready for Baton Rouge’s youngsters to enjoy until 2016.
The 30,000-square-foot facility will be in BREC’s City Park on Dalrymple Drive near Interstate 10. In 2010, BREC and the children’s museum signed off on an agreement to use the public park as a location.
While a decade may seem like a long time to wait for the museum, Duhé said, the final product will be worth the anticipation. Early on, when organizers with the museum asked for community input, it was suggested they start small and expand the museum in phases.
“But the community said, ‘That’s not what we want. We’re Baton Rouge and we’re the capital region, with two of the best learning institutes in the state,’ ” Duhé said. “It takes time to put together all these pieces to put together a best-in-class museum.”
So far, organizers have planned and funded three exhibit spaces called “Learning Zones” targeted toward children 8 and younger.
The hands-on exhibits are intended to help kids learn through “meaningful, purposeful play,” while promoting curiosity and literacy development.
The exhibits will use donated, reusable construction materials such as plastic, foam, paper, wire and wood, where kids will be encouraged to invent, build and take things apart.
One exhibit will feature a multi-level, colorful climbing feature where kids can sit on surfaces that are modeled after open books suspended in the air.
Ultimately, the museum will feature 18 exhibits, including a bubble playground, a pet care room called “Paws and Claws,” and an Art Garden.