Local News

Museums Merge for Space, Money Reasons

Posted July 28, 2007 11:35 p.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2007 6:04 p.m. EDT

— One Raleigh museum struggles with attendance while another struggles with space. Together, they will form a new children's museum.

Exploris and Playspace Children Museum now share staff and a budget. In two months, they will be under the same roof with a new name.

With 80,000 visitors a year, Playspace needs more space.

“Our fire code is 300 people, and on certain days I actually have to close the floor,” said Patty Wilson, facilities director.

Exploris Museum has plenty of space, with 83,000 square feet. But its global education focus aimed at middle school children isn’t bringing in the crowds.

“It wasn’t a message or marker that was broad enough to really sustain a museum of this size,” said Sally Edwards, president of the new museum.

To sustain both museums, they merged to become one.

“Legally, administratively, we have merged. We’re one organization with one budget,” Edwards said.

The merger resolved Exploris’ $5 million debt, she said. After Labor Day, Playspace will move into Exploris with a focus on making static exhibits more interactive.

Sonya Murphy has five children from 9 months to 12 years old.

“If I can find a facility that caters to all of them, that would be great,” said Sonya Murphy, who has five children ranging in age from 9 months old to 12 years old

The new museum hopes to be that facility and bring in 200,000 visitors in its first year. That would double Exploris' yearly attendance.

The new museum will open and unveil its name on Sept. 29. Ticket prices will remain $5.