Parents and kids, have you missed the Northeast Texas Children’s Museum?
After months of moving, the museum is finally ready to open the doors at its new location, the former Polara building at 100 Maple Street, off Highway 11 just east of town.
The museum announced the move to this location in February. The 1980s-era building had been owned by the Commerce Economic Development Corporation since 2013 until the purchase by the museum. The size of the museum has now been increased to 26,500 square feet, and the purchase also includes the 7.9 acres of land near the building for outdoor play areas.
The future of the museum was cast into doubt in 2017 when Texas A&M University-Commerce, the owner of the museum’s now former home, the old Watson Cafeteria, would not renew the lease when it expired in September of 2018. A deal was struck to allow the museum to remain in that location on a month-by-month basis until a timely solution was found.
Plans were drawn up, including one to include the museum in a university project to build an “Agricultural Expo” area on the land where the former President’s Home sits, but the necessary funding was not allocated by the state for that project. There was some talk that the museum could leave Commerce and move outside the city. But those fears were allayed with the announcement of the current structure this year.
NETX Executive Director Sharline Freeman said in February that she was itching to get going in the new location.
“We are confident that there are good things ahead in this building,” Freeman said at the time. “I can’t wait to get started.”
A grand opening is scheduled for Oct. 26. The popular “Main Street” section of the museum has been revamped, with a new look and several detailed replicas of local businesses.
A new exhibit is “Amazing Airways,” provided by Charles Schwab of Greenville. The business provided the museum with a $25,000 check earlier this year to pay for this exhibit. It features a system of pneumatic tubes that allow patrons to “explore the properties of air,” according to a museum press release.
The release states that there will be other new and refurbished exhibits present as well.
The museum had a soft opening this week, but will open its doors for the grand ceremony starting at 9:30 a.m. and running from 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26.