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One year ago, the Erie Experience Children’s Museum unveiled a new building. Now the museum is unveiling renovations to its original building.


It’s opening day again at Erie’s Experience Children’s Museum.

It was just over a year ago that the museum opened a new, three-story, 17,000-square-foot building at the corner of French and East Fifth Streets.

In the same month, the museum’s original building in the northern annex was closed for extensive renovation.

On Friday morning, the museum is expected to cut the ribbon, opening the final phase of the $18 million project.

Ainslie Brosig, the museum’s executive director, said she had hoped the expansion would increase visitor numbers from 64,000 to 130,000 or even 140,000.

“We have already exceeded that,” she said.

Although only one of two buildings was open, visitor numbers over the past 12 months were over 180,000, she said.

She hopes the excitement surrounding the renovated museum will help build on that success and increase the museum’s 1,900 family members.

“We really hope the next few weeks are going to be crazy,” she said.

What’s new in the museum

Brosig said there is a lot to see in the museum’s redesigned original building, which includes three classrooms.

What’s there to see inside the 1,300-square-meter building? Here are some of Brosig’s thoughts.

In the tank

“The second floor is what stands out to me the most,” she said. “It’s my favorite part of the museum.”

One of her favorite things on her favorite floor is a so-called craft tank.

“It’s like the TV show ‘Shark Tank,'” Brosig said. “We want kids to be able to create and invent things.”

A series of exhibits showcase things invented in Erie, Pennsylvania and the region.

“We have these tinkering stations where the kids can present their inventions, and there’s a pitch screen where they can present their idea.”

A Rube Goldberg machine

The museum also features an exhibit inspired by Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist known for his imaginative and complex machines that performed simple tasks.

Brosig said the exhibit puts a Rube Goldberg spin on some local icons through devices that launch fireworks, power a GE locomotive, sail the flagship Niagara and close a zipper – a nod to the Talon Zipper Co., which once made zippers in Meadville and Erie.

Lessons on recycling

The largest exhibition in the two museum buildings deals with the topic of recycling.

The exhibition “shows a huge garbage truck in which children can sit” and uses colored plastic balls to demonstrate how garbage separation works, said Brosig.

The exhibition “explains the entire recycling process and how it starts at home,” she said.

Family education activities

There is also a construction site in the renovated museum building.

“The kids will be using real tools,” Brosig said. “It’s very hands-on. We encourage families to spend time in this area making things together. There’s also an art studio on the first floor.”

A new look for an old room

The part of the museum that will reopen on Friday is designed so that families with children of different ages can enjoy the exhibits displayed side by side.

In general, however, Brosig says, the renovated rooms are aimed at children up to about fifth grade.

More: 36 years after work began on rebuilding the brig Niagara, the state’s flagship is in need of repair

“There’s an atmosphere for older children on this site,” she said.

The conclusion

Since the new museum building opened a year ago, there have been a number of problems, says Brosig. For example, there are plans to modernize an exhibition on chickens that hasn’t been working properly.

Nevertheless, she considers the museum to be an unqualified success.

Take a look inside: A new building will soon open at the Erie Children’s Museum

“This is a museum you would expect to find in any major city,” Brosig said. “I am so proud of the staff and team that built this museum. It is truly a showcase and something that Erie can be proud of.”

Contact Jim Martin at [email protected].