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Officials approve Explore & More site at Canalside

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

It's been a long wait for supporters of a children's museum in downtown Buffalo. Although the doors aren't scheduled to open until 2018, that desired center is now a done deal.

Members of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation approved a site Wednesday for a new Explore and More children's museum at Canalside. The nearly 43,000-square foot standalone building will be located on the South Aud Block.

Explore and More's Barbara Leggett explained that the center will feature outdoor and indoor programs, including eight educational play zones with local themes.

"We'll have everything from 'Farm to Fork' which is sponsored by Wegmans; 'Moving Water,' a centerpiece exhibit honoring our waterways and Niagara Falls and power generation," said Leggett. "We will have exhibits on playing, on lightning Buffalo's imagination, and on construction and building. We have a real variety of zones."

The ECHDC is giving $9 million to the project while Explore & More, which is currently based in East Aurora, has raised more than $7 million so far in its own capital campaign.

Numerous elected officials were on hand to welcome the announcement including State Senator Marc Panepinto, who like Explore & More staff, say the new museum will be an attractive new year-round asset that will work well with other local attractions.

"We've had a tremendous influx of people at Canalside, all spring, summer and fall. And now we've got the wonderful HarborCenter. We have ice skating. But if you don't skate... you can only skate for an hour... now you can skate and bring your kids to the children's museum," Panepinto said.

Leaders say the success of the Strong Museum in Rochester proves the popularity of children's museums. Yet Leggett said Explore & More is designed to be different than the Strong facility.

Groundbreaking for the new facility is scheduled for late 2016.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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