Wednesday, April 6, marked the groundbreaking of a $17-million asset to Downtown Erie.

The expERIEnce Children’s Museum is building a two-story addition that will feature more than 150 new exhibits. There will be seven galleries, which include a science gallery and outdoor space.

The museum has been recognized as Erie’s best museum for five consecutive years, since 2016, and is expanding its reach with a natural progression for the institution.

The new museum build has a total projected cost of $17 million and two-thirds of the funds have already been raised.

Leaders said this would really put the city on the map.

“It’s going to be a children’s museum like you would see in a big city with very, very high exhibits that we are designing all with the idea of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said Ainslie Brosig, expERiEnce Children’s Museum executive director.

Brosig said the addition is set to be complete by April 2023.

According to a news release, the new expERIEnce Children’s Museum is expected to open in late 2024. Upon opening, leaders say they are planning to see more than 130,000 visitors a year with roughly $10.1 million in earnings for the Erie regional economy.

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In addition, the museum also will create 170 jobs during construction and approximately eight to 10 full time equivalent and 28 part-time museum staff positions.