We will be hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Children’s Museum on September 23rd from 4-9pm at $10 a plate. Hope to see you there.
For twenty years the Children’s Museum of Montana has proudly offered families and organizations an option outside of daycare and school to bring their children for quality play and learning experiences, but that time may be coming to an end.
The Museum was first conceptualized in 1994 by the Junior League of Great Falls, turned over to an independent Board of Directors in 1996 and opened for regular business hours at our current location in February 1999. At that time the Museum boasted a single floor with 5 exhibits and an admission fee of $2 per person. Since then, the Museum has grown to more than twice its original size in exhibits and programs and only raised our admission prices twice to where it now sits at $5 per person.
In 1997, the Board of Directors approached the City of Great Falls for a lease on the abandoned and deteriorated Zellerbach building to set up shop. At the time, the partnership was simple: the City would lease us the building “as-is” for $1 per year as long as we funded all renovations and maintenance. At the end of our lease, an auto-renewal clause would give us another five years in our home, but at the same time, terms of our lease (aka – our rent) could also change. It is no longer simple.
In the past number of years our relationship with the City has become more complex. It is public knowledge that the City has its own agenda for our home. They need more office space. Though they admit to looking at other buildings, it is ours they have their sights set upon. Additionally, they advised they will be taking advantage of the ability to change the terms of our lease and charge us a higher rent. We asked how much and they replied that the City budget will determine the amount. As a struggling non-profit, we cannot afford a high rent. We need to purchase a building that no one can take from us.
As a struggling non-profit, we cannot afford a high rent. We need to purchase a building that no one can take from us.
The community of Great Falls needs the Children’s Museum. Montana is known for its harsh weather and there are very limited indoor options for our youth to enjoy during times of extreme temperatures, especially options for toddlers that don’t include a happy meal. With the pending closure of the Natatorium, it is more evidence that the City cares more for the gambling and drinking income than the community. We fear if we cannot raise the money for a new building, we will be yet another family-friendly option that will disappear. So while the City prepares for the arrival of their new office space, the staff at the Museum are frantically trying to figure out how to raise funds for a new building, save the business, and their jobs.
For almost two decades, the plain brick building sitting behind the Civic Center is home to the most colorful, family-friendly slice of heaven for our community and its surrounding areas. We have been honored to welcome thousands of people from our community, guests from around the world, and local institutions like the Boys and Girls Club, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, the Community Rec Center, the Rescue Mission as well as the PTA’s of Great Falls Public Schools and many more.
Please help us raise money for our community’s only indoor toddler-friendly establishment. We need to raise approximately $3.5 million to purchase/renovate and move to a new location. Will you help? We will be hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Children’s Museum on September 23rd from 4-9 PM at $10 a plate. Hope to see you there.