Mountain Top Children’s Museum in Breckenridge needs new home
In its final days at the Village in Breckenridge, the Mountain Top Children’s Museum is trying to break attendance records one last time before it has to pack up its exhibits and leave the location.
The Mountain Top Children’s Museum exhibits have existed in the Village at Breckenridge since 2004, but the nonprofit that provides a wealth of programming for local families will soon put its exhibits into storage with its last day at the Village being Sunday.
For 15 years, Breckenridge Ski Resort has supported the children’s museum by giving the nonprofit the space at the Village at 605 S. Park Ave. However, the building is no longer available to the museum, said executive director Laura Horvath, who confirmed the museum will close on Sunday, as it searches for a temporary location and ultimately a new home.
The building that houses the museum is reportedly in the process of being sold. Horvath thanked the resort for its years of support and referred questions about the status of the building to Breckenridge Ski Resort. In turn, a resort spokeswoman declined to provide any details about a potential sale.
“We do not comment on or speculate about the purchase or sale of any property until it’s final,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email.
But writing is already on the wall, and the museum does not have an immediate location to move into at this point.
Horvath said they’re looking for a temporary place to house museum operations while the nonprofit is embarking on the capital campaign to secure a permanent home in the Breckenridge community. Given it’s their last weekend at the Village, the museum is hoping to break attendance records to demonstrate just how badly the community needs the museum and its range of programming.
Many Summit County parents will be happy to know that even as the museum is looking for a home, it will still be offering its summer day camps on Maggie’s Pond in the Village this year. Additionally, the museum will continue its community outreach efforts and events programming.
Parents might breathe another sigh of relief knowing that the museum will continue hosting Kids’ Night Out, from Memorial DAy weekend through Labor Day, in the same location the day camps are happening.
For Erin McGinnis, a mother of two who are now nearing adulthood, her children are better for the time they’ve spent at the museum, as the family has been enjoying its “amazing programming” pretty much since the inception.
A former board president for the children’s museum, McGinnis was highly complimentary of how it has helped her children grow over the years — both inside and outside its walls. She said the museum gave her kids a structured environment where they could explore nature, science and teamwork.
“I think it’s amazing what they’ve done there,” she said, adding that the museum’s programming doesn’t leave anyone behind.
If a child is deeply interested in one particular thing, McGinnis added, the museum would try to weave that into whatever the child was doing for the day.
And last year alone, the museum saw 15,422 guests, a 20 percent spike over the previous year, according to statistics provided by the nonprofit. Horvath said that through the first three months of this year, they’ve already seen another 20 percent increase in attendance.
Additionally, the nonprofit reached over 850 students during the 2017-18 school year in 50 individual classrooms, and more than 180 children participated in the museum’s 60 days of camps.
Furthermore, Mountain Top Children’s Museum counted 688 children at its 156 Kids’ Night Out events last year. While the stats show just how many children are benefiting from the programming, they aren’t the only ones because some parents have colloquially coined the Kids’ Night Out events, “Parents’ Night Out.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what they call it, but I think the kids have more fun,” said Horvath, explaining that parents might get a much-needed break, but their children get to take on fun, interactive projects like making lava lamps or crafting shaving-cream art.
While the need to move was not something staff at the museum had anticipated, it might be for the best, given the dramatic increase in participation seen over the years.
“The reality is we’ve outgrown the space,” Horvath said of the Village. “So we have, within the last year, embarked on a cap campaign because we’ve had days where we reached capacity and there are more components we’d like to do to help with an older age bracket.”
This could mean offering more outreach programs and in-house workshops for educational programming, along with starting up a teen center and a multipurpose room for the myriad programs the museum would like to develop.
Ideally, the permanent space would be in the neighborhood of 4,000 square feet, and Horvath hopes the museum can secure a temporary location no later than this September.
She thinks the museum could struggle to work out of anything less than 1,500 square feet in the interim, but Horvath was careful to say they’re not turning anything down and remain committed to making whatever situation the museum can find work until a new forever home can be found.
The nonprofit is also seeking people to help with the capital campaign by participating in one of the museum’s various subcommittees for one-year commitments. Anyone who’s interested in doing so or would like more information should email MtnTop2019@gmail.com. Find it online at MtnTopMuseum.org.
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