Feasibility Study: Children’s Museum Is A Darn Good Idea

OSWEGO, NY – The feasibility study regarding the Children’s Museum Of Oswego is in. And, according to Dr. Robert “Mac” West of Informal Learning Experiences, Inc. (based in Denver), it’s a fantastic project for the Port City.

CMOO is a non-profit educational organization that meets the rigorous guidelines necessary to hold a charter from the NYS Education Department and Board of Regents.

Dr. Robert “Mac” West, left, looks on a Jon Shaver of CMOO talks to the audience.
Dr. Robert “Mac” West, left, looks on a Jon Shaver of CMOO talks to the audience.

CMOO and its dedicated board of trustees has a mission “to establish an interactive and educational children’s museum in the city of Oswego for the benefit of children, families, educators, and caregivers in and around the community,” according to Executive director Jillian Shaver.

The museum’s board of trustees commissioned Dr. West to conduct a feasibility study with the purpose of helping to put together a compelling, realistic, sustainable vision of how CMOO can successfully become a permanent part of the landscape within Oswego County and Central New York.

Dr. West presented the findings of his study to a full house at the American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St.

He commended the board for its hard work in the one year since the inception of the project. But he added, there is more hard work ahead and they are going to need a lot of money as well.

“There certainly is a really great interest on the part of the community for there to be such an opportunity for their children. The considerations that have to be taken into account are where is it going to be and how much is to going to cost?” Dr. West told Oswego County Today.

It’s likely going to take a multi-year fundraising program to raise the needed cash for the project, unless there is “a phenomenal” benefactor who just shows up out of nowhere, he added.

He gives great credit to Jon and Jill Shaver and their founding board of directors for CMOO “who have been very careful to have developed their plans to begin their communications with the broader community and to demonstrate through the programs that they’ve done in places like Harborfest and other community events to demonstrate just how exciting these activities can be for kids.” Dr. West said.

The focus age for children’s museums early childhood through, depending in the institution, ages 8 to 12, he said.

Jon Shaver thanked the public for its strong support of the project.

Dr. West explains to the crowd why the CMOO is such a good project for the Oswego County region
Dr. West explains to the crowd why the CMOO is such a good project for the Oswego County region

“I am very proud and very impressed by the community that we have here and the support that we have gotten,” he said. “It really speaks well of the community of Oswego. Without the support of everybody in this room, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Wednesday marked the one year anniversary of the project, he added.

Over the past year, CMOO has been functioning as a traveling museum through exhibit-based participatory activities housed at local events.
Through generous contributions, the museum has developed a collection of interactive exhibits that promote learning and social development through play, hands on activities, and intellectual involvement.

In April, they received a five-year provisional charter from the state education department to operate as a non-profit educational organization.

Children’s museums offer “substantial” opportunities, family, educational, economic and a host of other ways, Dr. West said.

“This is a darn good idea. It is something the community needs. It will not only be of value to the families and kids that use it – it’s going to help with the economics of the community,” he said. “It will be an improvement in the quality of life in the Oswego region.”

The challenges, he said, are how much will it cost? And, where’s it going to be?

Jill Shaver said, “Dr. Robert West received a great deal of valuable input from various constituents of Oswego County during the course of the study.”

Some people will travel long distances to find quality activities for their children; many prefer not to, he pointed out.

The market in Oswego is “modest,” he said. What the museum does must be consistent with that market, he added.

There are museums in and around Oswego, but none focus solely on children, Dr. West said.

A children’s museum in Oswego would create “a fantastic opportunity for collaboration” with existing groups and organizations, he said.

The location and cost are the two biggest challenges facing the project.

Some potential sites include the American Legion, the YMCA north location, the synagogue in East Park and the Ponzi building at the fort complex. Each has its own pros and cons.

Or, they could find a temporary facility and then move into a permanent home once they are established.

The museum needs to have adequate space for exhibits and activities. And it needs space for staff and storage as well a large enough parking area.

“So, yes, it is feasible (to create a children’s museum) but there are considerations, primarily economic, and work still to be done,” Dr. West said. “The board has done a huge amount of work in one year of existence. Sorry guys, the work isn’t done. There is a lot left to be done.”

“CMOO is a darn good idea,” he said. “I hope it continues to move forward.”

To learn more about CMOO or how you can support the museum’s growth and development, please visit www.cmoo.org, call at 315-326-1110, or email at [email protected]

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