Tacoma Children’s Museum will re-locate to United Way’s Pac Ave headquarters

United Way of Pierce County and the Children’s Museum of Tacoma entered into a potential 25-year partnership today with the signing of a ten-year lease, with options for three five-year extensions. The Museum will lease approximately 8,700 square feet on the first floor of United Way’s historic Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center at 1501 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Museum administrative offices will take up part of the second floor.

The Museum is outgrowing its current storefront location and has, under the leadership of John Folsom, been looking for a new home for over two years. Folsom was chairman of the Museum’s Site Selection Committee. The Committee reviewed several opportunities for the Museum, guided by criteria influenced largely by community input. The United Way location met the majority of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma’s search criteria, including a favorable long-term lease, increased space, potential access to outdoor play space, adjacent parking, easy access and safety in a downtown location near cultural districts and amenities.

“We are thrilled about this partnership,” said Tanya Andrews, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. “Given the current challenges that all of us are facing, this is really an affordable solution for the Museum, for funders and for families. This allows us to focus our resources on playing with families, be it in our new, enhanced space or in their own neighborhood through our expanding Play to Learn program. It means our supporters are funding more direct services rather than just bricks and mortar.”

The new location will further enhance United Way and the Children’s Museum’s partnership in education. The pair have been working with other local partners to increase the number of Pierce County children who are ready to learn upon entering kindergarten. The Children’s Museum’s Play to Learn program has been a key component in the community’s efforts. Play to Learn offers free opportunities for children birth to six years old and their adult caregivers. In its first 18 months, the program spread to 8 sites throughout Pierce County and now serves over 400 individuals each week. Play to Learn is projected to serve 10,000 people this year: a growth of over 68 per cent since its inception.

“We are excited to have them on board,” said Rick Allen, President of United Way of Pierce County. “Not only are our interests closely aligned, but their move here now makes them a part of the Museum District, a nice enhancement to an economic driver in the city. We think the fit is right in many ways.”

The Museum expects to open the doors at 1501 Pacific Avenue in late 2011.

The building, built in 1889, was dedicated as the Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center in 1995. United Way purchased the property in 1992 with the intent of providing affordable space to local nonprofits and organizations with closely related interests. The building is home to several organizations including the Boys and Girls Club administrative offices, Safe Streets, The Nonprofit Center, Cares of Washington and United Way of Pierce County.

The Children’s Museum is interested in continuing its conversations with the community about services and museum amenities; a survey is available at http://www.ChildrensMuseumofTacoma.org/capital-campaign . Community members can also sign up for email updates about the new space and the Museum’s Capital Campaign at http://www.ChildrensMuseumofTacoma.org/newsletter-sign-up.php .

The Museum’s Capital Campaign for a new home will be reactivated in the upcoming month. Campaign co-chairs are Jacquie Boyd and Joanne Bamford will meet with their leadership team in early May to determine project needs and campaign goals.

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For earlier Tacoma Daily Index coverage, click on the following link:

Waterfront site eliminated, Children’s Museum regroups — http://tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1217557&more=0