Children’s Museum Opening At Playland

The long-awaited attraction in Rye will finally open its doors.

The Keva Planks exhibit inside the soon-to-be-opened Children’s Museum at Playland.

After a decade of fighting for building permits and surviving the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Westchester Children’s Museum is finally set to open this summer museum officials said Wednesday.

“Despite what you hear about Playland, we are a go,” said Tracy R. Kay, the museum’s executive director.

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The independent project started in 2002 with six local parents around a kitchen table pitching ideas for a children’s museum. The group was granted approval to change the historic Rye boardwalk bathhouses to what will become the museum. When Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was elected in 2009, he and the legislature also gave the green light for the project to go forward.  

That green light turned red when Hurricane Sandy tore through the county two years ago, although the construction site wasn’t damaged too badly and construction continued. Now Kay wants the museum to completed by the fall of 2015.

“We want to open with a bang and we want people to come back,” said Kay. To meet that goal the museum hopes to raise $9 million to fund the remaining exhibits. Donations are being requested but are not required to enter before the museum is fully opened.

Kay said other children museums he visited were designed for either very young children or preteens, but not both. The Children’s Museum at Playland hopes to attract several age groups. For example, a water-based exhibit will offer three parts designed for different age groups. The toddler section, Fun With Water lets children shoot targets with water guns. The next level, Water in the Natural Environment, will be geared for older kids and will illustrate how precipitation and the water cycle occurs. The highest level will be Water in the Built Environment, which will focus on water-treatment in sewage plants and its return to the natural environment.

One exhibit that will be ready for opening day is Keva Planks, where kids can learn the basics of architecture and working together. Some other exhibits that will be added later on will let guests build their own mini roller coaster, explore a netted climber by design firm Luckey LLC, and visit an oral history kiosk. These exhibits are scheduled for the fall of 2014.

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“Our goal is to create a safe, clean, and fun environment for everybody,” said Kay.

In May the museum will be open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. In June the museum will add Sunday hours from 12 noon to 3 pm.

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