Photos from the Event are available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the beginning of construction of the new $27 million Explore & More Children’s Museum on the South Aud Block of Canalside. The 43,000 square foot stand-alone building will house seven educational play zones, each offering hands-on activities and exhibits that tell the stories of Buffalo for children and families. Explore & More’s project is expected to create 36 full-time equivalent jobs, in addition to 40 construction jobs, and bring 250,000 new visitors annually to Buffalo’s waterfront.
“One of the key drivers of the remarkable resurgence of Western New York is Buffalo's flourishing waterfront, and the addition of the Explore & More Children’s Museum will attract even more visitors, revenue and excitement,” Governor Cuomo said. "Children's museums cultivate curiosity, build learning skills, and provide a new, exciting attraction for visitors and New Yorkers alike."
The building will anchor the corner of Lloyd Street and Marine Drive. In addition to the seven educational play zones, the four-story brick museum will house a café overlooking the Canal Towpath, along with museum retail space. The ground floor will also include two entrances for museum guests, allowing school groups to be separated from daily visitors as necessary. The second floor includes a two-story space along the canals while the third floor provides an ideal location for several exhibits and views of the Buffalo River. On the fourth floor, overlooking the canals and the city skyline as backdrop, a rooftop terrace will allow museum visitors to enjoy Canalside from a unique vantage point. Renderings of the Museum are available here, here and here.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who took part in today's ceremony, said, "The expansion of Explore & More Children's Museum at Canalside is another milestone in the rebirth of our historic waterfront and the larger economic resurgence of Buffalo and Western New York. Our community has united to support the growth and success of an institution that will continue to enrich the lives of thousands of children and bring new life and vitality to downtown for generations to come."
"Canalside has become a favorite place for families to come to play and enjoy the waterfront," Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia said. "The addition of the Explore & More Children’s Museum will open up a world of imagination and exploration in an environment that encourages quality time with family."
It is conservatively estimated that in addition to museum admission, visitors to Explore & More at Canalside will spend a projected $4.9 million per year in the immediate neighborhood. The project site is within walking distance of a number of Buffalo’s existing or planned cultural attractions. In the first ten years of operation the museum is projected to have a $188 million impact on the region.
"We are here today because of all of you," Explore & More’s CEO Douglas Love said. "It was your voices, and your overwhelming support that created this institution that is both for and about Buffalo. This is, first and foremost, an investment in our children and in their future here."
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has provided nearly $9 million toward the core and shell of the new building. That funding stems from an agreement with the New York Power Authority as part of the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in 2007. Last year, NYPA awarded $1.7 million from its Western New York Economic Development Fund to help with exhibit planning and construction. Another $300,000 was awarded from NYPA’s Environmental Justice Program for energy efficiency upgrades. Explore & More has been raising the remainder of the $27 million project through its Play It Forward Capital Campaign.
David McNamara, Chairman of the Play It Forward Capital Campaign, said, "This project is game-changing for the City, both in the resources it will provide to children and families, and in the asset it will surely become as a tourist destination. Across the country, children’s museums are widely regarded as vital components of healthy cities that attract new businesses and new families. To be able to do this while making a significant impact on the lives of Buffalo’s children is truly remarkable. This is a proud day for all of us, and the start of a very bright future for Buffalo’s children."
John Koelmel, Chairman of the NYPA Board of Trustees, said, “Today’s groundbreaking of the Explore & More Children’s Museum is a banner day for the Buffalo waterfront. This project is the culmination of a true team effort. It is a shining example of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to bring additional excitement to downtown Buffalo and his efforts to make the city a vibrant piece of our community fabric and a world-class tourist destination. It also illustrates the New York Power Authority’s commitment to give back to the communities where we do business.”
Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "The Explore & More Children’s Museum is a perfect addition to the City of Buffalo’s rich portfolio of museums. To locate it as part of Canalside, will not only drive more families to the museum, but to all of the wonderful components of Buffalo’s inner and outer harbor. This will be a tremendous institution for local families and a great destination for visitors."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, “With the groundbreaking of the Explore & More Museum, we’re further taking steps to engage families and visitors at Canalside with educational and interactive opportunities for children. This project is evidence that our waterfront continues to transform into a destination for all ages. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to this project, and his commitment to Western New York’s families.”
Senator Chris Jacobs said, "The Explore & More Children's Museum provides another wonderful attraction for visitors and families to experience and appreciate on Buffalo's waterfront. This is just the latest in a long line of strategic investments that is successfully transforming our waterfront into a year-round destination for people of all ages."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "The Explore and More Children's Museum will be a great addition to Canalside. Canalside continues to see incredible growth every year, and I know this new attraction will become an integral part of the Canalside experience. Museums, restaurants, shops, and housing are the future for Canalside, and this is another great step forward."
Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes said, "Relocating The Explore & More Children’s Museum to the city center is a great way to improve accessibility and learning opportunities for all students,” said. “This $27 million project will be a great addition to Buffalo’s waterfront, for our families with young children, and for local tourism. Children’s museums add significant value to vibrant communities and give parents more options to foster creative education in young minds. I applaud Governor Cuomo, Douglas Love and his Explore & More team, and my colleagues in government on making today a reality."
Canalside will remain open throughout the museum construction process. A full schedule of upcoming events and activities is available at www.canalsidebuffalo.com.
About Explore & More
Celebrating its 23rd year in operation, Explore & More Children’s Museum provides an environment for creative play and learning through hands-on exhibits, activities and programs that inspire creativity, curiosity and imagination. Explore & More is currently located at 300 Gleed Avenue in East Aurora, and will open in the South Aud Block at Canalside on the Buffalo waterfront in late 2018. For more information, visit www.exploreandmore.org or call (716) 655-5131 ext. 11.
Canalside is a growing regional destination and entertainment district, situated on 21 historic acres along downtown Buffalo’s emerging waterfront on the Buffalo River. Canalside earns its name from its storied past, when the Erie Canal Harbor was built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Until five years ago, the land was barren and inaccessible, but the area has been reclaimed by the state’s Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and developed with millions of dollars in public and private investment. With more than 1,000 yearly events and nearly 1 million annual visitors, Canalside is fast becoming the go-to place for in- and out-of-towners of all ages to learn, play and relax.
About Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation
A nine-member board consisting of seven voting directors and two non-voting, ex-officio directors governs the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. The seven voting directors are recommended by the New York state governor and are appointed by the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development as sole shareholder of ECHDC. The Erie County executive and the City of Buffalo mayor hold the two non-voting, ex-officio director positions. For more information on ECHDC, visit www.eriecanalharbor.com.