05/02/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/02/2019 10:29
In addition to the play zones, the four-story brick museum houses a family-friendly café and party room overlooking the Canal Towpath, along with a Buffalo themed gift shop, The BFLO Store. The lower 'towpath' level features the café and two party spaces with outdoor patio seating along the picturesque canals. The main second floor features east and west entrances and the gift shop, opening up to a brightly lit two story space. The third floor provides an ideal location for several exhibits and views of the Buffalo River. The fourth floor features private office space, a conference room, several exhibit spaces, activity studios and a rooftop terrace offering magnificent views of the city skyline.
Today, the Explore & More building was officially dedicated in gratitude to all of the public, private and corporate entities and individuals who helped bring this community vision to life and to the memory of former Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. whose foundation named in his honor selected Explore & More as a recipient of $6 million in matching grant funds.
Mary Wilson, Life Trustee of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, was on hand to see her late husband's name added to the Explore & More name on the building and to say a few words in his memory about his passion for this city.
While exhibit testing is currently underway, the museum will officially open its doors to the public later this month.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, 'Explore & More Children's Museum at Canalside is another milestone in the rebirth of Buffalo's historic waterfront, creating a world-class tourist destination that will enrich children's lives for years to come.'
Mary Wilson, Life Trustee of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, said, 'We are so excited to see children and families from Western New York and beyond, flock to the new Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum. Ralph would have loved being here today with his name on a museum that will bring joy and fun to a community that he loved so dearly. That is how he lived his life.'
Museum CEO Michelle Urbanczyk said, 'It's a new day for play in the city of Buffalo and we couldn't be more excited to realize the completion and dedication of Explore & More. With the help of so many supporters, the dream of building a world-class children's museum at the heart of Canalside, celebrating the power of child-led play, has become a reality. We're thrilled to have created a space where all children can play into their fullest potential.'
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Chairman Robert Gioia said, 'Explore & More is an important addition to the region's already successful Canalside. The museum will have a long-lasting impact on Western New York as a whole as well as the young minds and families that experience the creative learning and play options inside the incredible space.'
John R. Koelmel, Chairman of the New York Power Authority, said, 'Having a first-rate children's museum at the heart of the Buffalo waterfront opens up a whole new world of exploration to families while providing an economic boost to the entire Western New York region. Children and families from all over New York and beyond, regardless of socioeconomic status, will benefit from the opportunity to learn about the unique Buffalo Niagara area and engage in hands-on play that sparks the imagination. This all-about-fun museum is a great addition to our community and one in which the Power Authority is extremely proud to have played a role.'
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 (NYPA) as part of the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project in 2007. In 2016, NYPA awarded $1.7 million from its Western New York Economic Development Fund to help with exhibit planning and interior 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 $29 million project through its Play It Forward Capital Campaign.
The state has committed more than $90 million to transform Buffalo's Inner Harbor into what is now known as Canalside, a mixed-use urban entertainment destination that has received national and international attention as one of the key drivers of the remarkable resurgence of Western New York. Open to the public since May 2008, Canalside features several fully restored facets of the original Erie Canal, including the Commercial Slip, Boardwalk and the Historic Replica Canals. A year-round attraction that hosts nearly 1.5 million visitors annually, Canalside boasts a wide array of events, concerts, festivals, family activities, attractions, historical and cultural programming, art, food and tours that capitalize on and showcase the diverse resources of the Western New York region. In addition, the Historic Replica Canals are frozen in the winter months to become New York State's largest outdoor ice-skating rink.