| Dennis Hackett
WESTFIELD – After closing back in March due to the pandemic, Amelia Park Children’s Museum is preparing to reopen this fall and requesting donations from the community.
Ray Radigan, the Children’s Museum’s executive director, said that any donations will go directly into new upgrades to follow along with state guidelines.
“It really is a comprehensive plan both around safety for visitors and staff. Everything from infrastructure changes, we are adding plexiglass, changing the gift shop to a touch-free gift shop, and increasing our cleaning procedures. We’re following state guidelines and looking at what other children’s museums are doing across the country,” he said.
Despite the shutdown, Radigan said the museum had enough money in its reserves to survive the initial hit.
“Fortunately we did have some reserves in our bank account so we didn’t hit panic mode right away and that allowed us to ease into this so to speak, so that has helped to carry us through to this point,” he said.
While the summer is typically slower for the museum, Radigan said some event cancellations in the spring have had a ripple effect.
“We lost the Spring Break, which is usually extremely popular for us. We had to cancel several events, including our biggest fundraiser of the year. While we may not be going out of business, we are struggling to look at the future,” he said.
Radigan added that the museum still has a battle ahead of it once it reopens.
“Reopening would be a wonderful thing for us and the community, however our problems are not solved as soon as we open our doors. We’re dealing with reduced capacity and a deep drop off in visitation to children’s museums across the country, we are fully expecting that and trying to budget for it accordingly,” he said.
Rather than put up a total amount for donations, Radigan said the museum is currently accepting donations in different tiers, with a $25 donation equating to one hour of safe play, a $50 donation for a half day of safe play, and a $100 donation for a full day of safe play.
“The amount we would need to raise to cover everything involved in the reopening, including restaffing to ideal levels, I think it wouldn’t be realistic for us to expect that so we’re just hoping to get whatever help we can through the community and grants,” he said.
Just a couple days into the fundraiser, Radigan said the museum is already seeing an outpouring of support.
“So far, it’s been strong, we had a fundraiser back in May and we got some response, but it wasn’t great. It’s only been two days since we launched our initial email and we have outraised what we raised in May by about three times already,” he said.