Wonderscope Children's Museum is moving to south Kansas City.
Around 70 people gathered Monday morning for a groundbreaking in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. The new 35,000 square-foot facility will double the size of the museum's current location near Johnson Drive and Nieman Road in Shawnee, Kansas.
"We're creating a significant regional attraction, as well as a community resource for the neighborhood," says Roxane Hill, Wonderscope executive director.
Hill says the museum has seen significant growth in recent years. In 2017, they recorded 81,000 visitors, up 20 percent from 2016. Hill hopes this move will help them ramp up interactive exhibits and expand regular programs that will keep parents and children coming back for more frequent visits.
Founded in 1989, Wonderscope focuses on children 10 and under. Mayor Sly James says these are the important formative years when we need to make sure kids are reading, listening and socializing.
Citing the "30 million word gap" between children of lower income families and their more affluent counterparts, James says he is pleased the museum will be more accessible to families.
"Children who have experienced this 30 million word gap are slower to graduate, they make less earnings, they tend to have shorter life spans, they tend to have more negative encounters with police," James says. "In short, this is important. To get them talking, reading now."
Councilman Scott Taylor says this development is part of a synergy sweeping through south Kansas City.
"We've had a record number of ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings the last five years," Taylor says. "In turn, we've had a lot of younger families moving into surrounding neighborhoods. The timing is perfect."
Wonderscope is scheduled to open in spring 2019 at the new location.
Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.