WILTON — At a meeting Tuesday, October 30, updates on the progress of the Western Maine Play Museum were shared. A summer 2019 opening is projected for the main part of the building.
WMPM Vice President Lori Lewis shared how the museum had gotten to where it is today.
Between 2013 when the vision of a play museum in Wilton was first brought forward and 2017, more than $500,000 had been raised.
The York family heirs donated the residence on Main Street where Dr. York once practiced medicine. Sale of fixtures from the home, fundraisers, donations and grants provided money to begin renovations and obtain some play equipment.
An architect drew up plans that include handicap accessibility and compliance with all safety codes. Each room in the two-story home was designed for a different use.
A $157,000 federal grant awarded in 2017 came with hidden costs and red tape.
Lewis said another architect had to be hired and the remaining contracts put out to bid.
WMPM President Angela McLeod said more than a year was spent trying to meet grant obligations.
“The value of the grant was whittled down $20,000-30,000,” she said.
Lewis said during this time plans were finalized and wish lists created. Because the barn needs a more expensive cold weather sprinkler system its opening is being put off for a few years.
“All exhibits are planned to begin with something specific and will rotate once the museum opens,” she said.
The Building Room will feature a rainbow factory. Pool noodles are figured into this exhibit.
In the Invention Room, a straw rocket launcher will allow children to create and blast things off.
Upright Frameworks, which did the initial contracted work, received the bid to complete the final renovations.
Owner Josh Wojcik said he grew up locally and is his home in spirit.
“I believe in this. When my wife and I got married, I asked for donations to the museum for wedding gifts. I did the first sections at cost, didn’t keep track,” he said. “The bid for phase 2 didn’t allow for that. Every day I’m looking for ways to reduce costs.”
Wojcik said the water line has been upgraded to support the required sprinkler system. The building is sided, windows installed and some structural fixes completed.
Fire doors, interior walls and drywall are still needed. A firewall will be built in the entrance between the home and the barn. Items will be installed to meet ADA requirements.
A parking lot will be created in the grassy lot between Franklin Savings Bank and the museum. A grant will cover half of the cost. Even if the paving is done in the spring, it won’t delay opening of the museum, McLeod said.
The museum is one of several downtown businesses that will receive funding from a Community Development Block Grant for facade work. Wilton’s economic development consultant Darryl Sterling, who wrote the grant, said the museum will be receiving $40,000.
“The grant will cover several exterior parts of the building. It’s a pleasure to help with Wilton’s improvements,” he said.
Lewis said volunteers are needed.
WMPM director Norm Hurlburt said, “Don’t worry about your lack of skill, if you can use a broom or rake, we can use you.”
Lewis said an executive director position is being developed. Most of the staffing will be done by dedicated volunteers.
She said ticket prices are being established, perhaps $7 per child and $4 per adult. A family ticket will be available. The library will have free passes available and guest membership options are being sought.
Lewis said there are several ways to help the museum.
To make a monetary donation, visit www.gofundme.com/westernmaineplay.
To purchase items on the museum’s wish list, visit www.myregistry.com/giftlist/westernmaineplaymuseum.
For those who use Amazon, select western Maine children’s museum for a contribution with every purchase.
For more information about the museum, visit www.westernmaineplay.org.
To volunteer at the museum, email firstname.lastname@example.org.