Children’s Museum moving ahead with plans for new home in City Park _lowres

Children’s Museum unveils details of move to City Park.

The Louisiana Children’s Museum, which has been raising millions of dollars for a new building in City Park, will get a big hand from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, the charitable outfit best known for originating the state’s widely used college scholarship program.

The Children’s Museum said Monday that the foundation has pledged $1 million to help pay for its new Early Learning Village, which is slated to open near the New Orleans Museum of Art sometime in 2018.

“This is a wonderful and very generous gift,” said Julia Bland, the museum’s chief executive officer. “We’re absolutely thrilled.”

In a statement, Phyllis Taylor cast the gift as an extension of the Taylor Foundation’s mission to promote education. Taylor, the foundation’s chairwoman and president, called the museum’s Learning Village a “unique concept that brings many aspects of early childhood development together under one umbrella, providing assistance to adults, parents and teachers to expand its impact.”

Since its founding in 1986, the Children’s Museum has operated out of a three-story building in the Warehouse District, which it plans to sell eventually.

Flanked mostly by restaurants and art galleries, the museum has had no room to provide outdoor space as part of the learning experience it offers youngsters. Discussions about a bigger location at City Park began in 2007.

Bland said museum officials are meeting with architects this week to get a detailed rundown on plans for the new location. Previous renderings showed a low-slung pair of rectangular buildings connected by a walkway; one of the buildings juts out over the bayou in City Park.

The buildings will sit on an 8.5-acre campus controlled by the museum in accordance with a cooperative endeavor agreement signed with park officials.

Bland said the museum is about three-quarters of the way through raising the $38 million needed to finish the project, the details of which also will need approval from the park. The museum plans to break ground in early 2016.

The Taylor Foundation, probably best known for encouraging the creation of the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, a state-funded scholarship program for Louisiana students attending state colleges and universities, also donates to a variety of other organizations. In fact, recently it has been on a bit of a spree.

The foundation announced in December that it would give Tulane University nearly $15 million — its largest gift — to start the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking. Earlier this year, the foundation announced nearly $1 million in scholarships for first-generation college students to attend Louisiana Tech University. And in April, Kingsley House broke ground on an expansion of its campus in the Lower Garden District, a project funded in part by the foundation.