Children's museum wants to find a permanent home in Oswego

Feb 6, 2014

Although it doesn't have a permanent home, for the last year the Children's Museum of Oswego has brought its exhibits to local events like Harborfest and the Great Pumpkin Festival. But last week, the museum's board of trustees set its sights on finding a fixed location in the city.

Board president Jon Shaver says they have been working with museum consultant Robert West to perform a feasibility study to determine what needs to be done in order to establish and operate the museum. Shaver says although the final results of the seven-month study have not been released, the results are encouraging. And Shaver says the fact they've received multiple donations of at least $1,000 is a good sign.

"Many of the concerns are location, as well as financial support. But, like I said, based on our results of the First 40, I feel like the financial support is going to be there. This is going to be a significant project, but I feel like the city of Oswego is behind this project, and that Oswego County is behind this project."

West says based on his study, there is a need for a children's museum in the area, but establishing a location in the community will take an influx of time and money.

"At this stage of development, it's likely to be multi-year unless there's a phenomenal sugar daddy who just shows up out of nowhere. But this is a challenge for this region, is to generate that kind of capital money for a physical installation."

During a meeting to discuss the museum's future, West laid out several possible locations in the city. He says the new location must be a large space with adequate parking for visitors in both cars and buses, but also has to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Three locations have been looked at so far, including the former American Legion building, the old YMCA building and a synagogue that is currently being transitioned to a city owned property.

"It's right in Washington Square Park, so we have a lot of green space. Parking isn't too much of an issue because the county parking lot right next to the building provides many, many, many spots. So a lot of the obstacles that some of the other buildings we've looked at posed are solved by the situation this building happens to be in."

Of the city's available locations, he says there's one building that piqued his interest more than the others.

"I'll be very personal on this one, which I'm not doing this in the actual report, but I really like the American Legion building because of its historic nature and the fact that it itself has a story to tell. It can be of equal interest as a locality, as a site for children's activities and as a place to talk about architectural history and the evolution of the Oswego community. That will engage parents and grandparents as much as it will kids."

Shaver says in the coming year the group will host a black tie gala to raise capital and hopes to continue building support through increased outreach.