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Kidzu children's museum plans to grow

Posted October 11, 2008

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— The two-year-old Kidzu Children's Museum has been considering relocation options that could increase its space by five times.

Kidzu and the town of Chapel Hill signed a letter of intent to enter good-faith negotiations about a 15,000-square foot space on top the Wallace Parking Plaza, 150 E. Rosemary St. The museum could also use space for outdoor programming, activities and exhibits.

"This is an exciting time for Kudzu, and we're very pleased with this progress in our discussions with the Town of Chapel Hill," Cathy Maris, Kiduz's executive director, said in a e-mail.

The letter stipulates that "the space would be made available at little or no charge to Kidzu" and that the lease would be long term.

A version of the letter, introduced at a Sept. 8 Town Council, meeting sets Nov. 24 as a date to present a formal agreement to councilors.

An anonymous donor has also offered Kidzu use of a 2.5-acre lot in Carrboro, Maris said. Although that offer is appealing, Maris said, it would benefit the museum to stay closer to University of Chapel and its many volunteers who live in the town.

"As a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring children to learn through play, we are enormously grateful for all the support we've received from the community," Maris said.

The museum has not sent an amount on how much money the museum could raise for the relocation, Maris said.

The museum has outgrown the 3,000-square-foot storefront at 105 E. Franklin St. it has occupied since opening in March 2006, Maris said.  Nearly 30,000 people visited the museum during its first year of operation.

Space constraints have limited Kidzu to hosting only one exhibit at a time, Maris said in March, when the town and museum were considering other relocation options.

Kidzu has been hosting its first original exhibit, "KidZoom: The Power of Creativity!" featuring works by over a dozen local artists and craftspeople.

The museum will also be offering free dental care, from screenings to toothbrushes, for children this Sunday 1-4:30 p.m. The museum offers free admission on Sundays, thanks to the support of Durham Regional Hospital.

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