Fundraising efforts begin for Rapid City children’s museum

September 10, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A new fundraising campaign hopes to bring Rapid City closer to having its own children’s museum, where hands-on learning will be mixed with big doses of imagination and fun.

The Children’s Museum of the Black Hills has launched “Gearing Up for Greatness,” a capital campaign that aims to raise $850,000 by the end of September so the nonprofit museum can open in early 2019. If successful, the museum will be located in a renovated former retail space in downtown Rapid City.

The museum’s volunteer founder and board president, Lily Bruckner, said funds will pay for construction and renovation costs. She also anticipates the fundraiser will provide enough money to keep the museum sustainable for its first couple of years in operation.

The museum will contain a mix of STEAM2 (science, technology, engineering, arts, math and medicine) exhibits and activities for children from birth to age 12, Bruckner told the Rapid City Journal . ARC International of Rapid City is designing the initial 5,000 square feet of the museum. Finances permitting, the board would like to expand to a 2,500-square-foot third level as well, Bruckner said.

Bruckner and a group of other local parents are the driving force behind organizing and fundraising for the Children’s Museum of the Black Hills.

The “Gearing for Up Greatness” campaign wants to attract large and small donations so everyone in the community can support the new museum. In fact, three of the “Gearing Up” early donors are siblings — a preschooler, a kindergartner and a second-grader — who raided their piggy banks, Bruckner said.

“We really want this to be a community-owned museum, and we want the community to embrace it and feel proud of the museum,” Bruckner said. “When people feel invested in something, they’re more willing to cheer it on.”

An invitation-only event on Sept. 10 for the museum’s founding donors and local officials will formally launch the “Gearing Up for Greatness” campaign. However, any donor who gives at least $25 between now and the end of September will be entered in a drawing to win a one-year membership to the museum after it opens, Bruckner said.

Throughout September, the museum will host open houses for the public, Bruckner said. Interlocking building blocks, a wind tunnel, a magnetic exploration table and a constellation exhibit will be in place for kids.

“People are invited to come in and play and hopefully donate,” Bruckner said. “We want people to see the transformation of the space ... and allow their imaginations to wander. We’ll have poster board for people to write their ideas down and say what they really want (for future exhibits and activities).”

The museum is seeking local artists, artisans, storytellers and other volunteers to lead activities, assist the staff or play with kids after the museum opens. The museum’s board also needs volunteers.

“We are intentionally keeping everything we can local,” Bruckner said. “We want to allow people to showcase their talents. I think our South Dakota mindset of ‘We can build it and we can create things’ is going to be really beneficial for us as a whole.”

Before finalizing a location and launching the “Gearing Up for Greatness” campaign, the museum board hired a consultant to do a feasibility study, Bruckner said. The study indicated that the museum could attract about 66,000 visitors annually — not including tourism traffic.

“We don’t really have a lot of indoor activities for kids, especially in the winter,” Bruckner said. “We’re really lacking in some of the indoor activities and we wanted to add that. It’s something I’ve heard consistently from other parents in the community.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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