An $18 million expansion at a local children’s museum is nearing the end of its first phase.

In about five weeks, the expERIEnce Children’s Museum located downtown will open its doors to a new three-story addition.

“We really started looking at what was going on in our community and we knew that this building that we’re currently housed in was never supposed to be a children’s museum,” said Ainslie Brosig, executive director, ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum. “We really decided that it would never increase our footprint.”

To continue to serve their mission, they started their campaign for a new building in 2018.

Construction is being completed in three phases.

Phase one includes around 19,000 square feet of an addition that is three floors of exhibits. It will feature a brand-new lobby, gift shop and an entire wall dedicated to the project’s largest sponsors.

“Once we finish phase one, the ECM team moves into the new addition, opens up this facility and we shut down the existing building. Then phase two, the construction team moves in there and renovates the existing building,” said Charlie Yazembiak, project principal, Weber Murphy Fox.

The last phase is exterior site work to complete their new outdoor classroom. In addition to the new space, the museum is updating its logo with a pinwheel to signify the playfulness and joy of childhood.

“Children’s museums are a catalyst for revitalization. We know we’re economic drivers. They’re strategically put in most cities in areas that need thriving, so we are in a sweet spot,” said Brosig.

The museum has been able to secure $5 million in state funding and $3 million from the Erie Community Foundation. All three phases are expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.

All exhibits will continue to focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math education to help children develop lifelong skills.

“The water table that is down here in the lower level actually expands throughout most of the addition, and it is the second largest water table in the United States so I know the ECM team is very proud of that,” said Yazembiak.

If you would like to join the museum on the opening day of their expanded site on June 21, you have to purchase a timed ticket. For more information, visit the museum’s website.