When will the new Museum open?
We will get possession of the Mendel building when the civic art gallery moves into the new Remai Modern facility. The Remai Modern plans to move out in spring 2017, and following that, we will need 4-5 months for asbestos remediation and 9-12 months for renovations and the installation of the our exhibits. We expect that the new children's museum in the Mendel will open to the public in late 2018.
What is happening to the Conservatory? Will the lobby still be open to the public and will the coffee shop stay open?
The Conservatory will stay open and will be operated by the City of Saskatoon. The lobby will remain open to the public and a coffee shop and gift shop are planned for the Museum. The operator of the coffee shop and gift shop are not yet determined.
Will there be an admission?
Admission rates have not yet been finalized, however, the daily admission rates are expected to be approximately $7.00 per person (free for children under one). These rates are consistent with the rates charged by other similar children‘s museums and are reasonable when compared to admission rates at other facilities within Saskatoon. We also plan to expand our funded access programs in the new facility. These programs allow us provide regular free admission days, and to bring in disadvantaged groups with free or subsidized transportation and admission, implementing our core value of Bringing People Together, regardless of their financial situation.
Who’s building the new museum?
We are currently hard at work with Argyle Design from Brooklyn, NY, a firm that specializes in building children's museum exhibits with input from the community. Also on the team are Strata Development, whose impressive portfolio illustrates a new legacy of work in design and construction management for their projects, and Kindrachuk Agrey, who are no strangers to the iconic Mendel building and its heritage, as their affair with the building started back in 2004 when selected to provide the design work on the expansion of the Mendel. There may be opportunities for local firms to get involved in some of the non-specialized exhibit fabrication as well. There will also be some specialized exhibit items for which we will engage fabrication firms that are experienced in building children’s museum exhibits.
Why was Argyle Design chosen instead of a local or Canadian company?
The museum issued a formal Request for Proposals and received 14 proposals from international design firms, including three from Canada. Based on our RFP criteria, we evaluated the companies, narrowed the field down to a shortlist of three very strong candidates, and after interviews and follow up clarifications, we selected Argyle Design from Brooklyn, NY. Argyle Design specializes in the design of children’s museums and has designed over 30 children’s museums across North America to date. We’ve since been very happy with their skill at listening to our vision, their sensitive community engagement work, and capturing it all in the Master Museum Plan. We are continuing with Argyle Design for the detailed development of the exhibits.
What are some of the exhibits and activities that will be offered?
Exhibits include areas for storytelling, climbing and playing, acting, inventing, creating, and discovering new things. Proposed exhibit names include: Northern Lights; The Gathering Place; Toon Town; Little Bridges; Boxes o’ Fun; The Climber; Discovery Mine; Art Space and Maker Space.
How has the public been involved in development of the design?
We held community engagement sessions, facilitated by Argyle Design, during the development of the Master Museum Plan in 2014/2015. We have started conversations with educators, new Canadians, aboriginal groups, performance arts groups, and those caring for special needs children, as well as with the general public. We intend to continue these community engagement conversations as the detailed design development progresses, and throughout the life of the new facility.
Will you be honouring the Mendel Legacy? Will you be making significant changes to the Mendel, a heritage building?
The building will still be called the Mendel Building. We are planning for new visible features on the exterior that show that the building has a new focus on kids, while still respecting the heritage and legacy of the building’s architecture. Our plan also calls for additional windows facing the river. Renovations will be made to the interior but we will make every effort to maintain the heritage of the building.
How many people will attend the new museum?
We are budgeting, financially, for a conservative estimate of 60,000 visitors per year. Based on statistics from similar sized museums in similar sized cities, we will be planning to be able to accommodate as many as 150,000 visitors per year. In the last 12 months, we have over 17,500 visits to the current museum in Market Mall.
How will the CDM cover its operational costs?
The CDM projects that the $1.2 million/year operating costs will be funded by 50% earned revenue and 50% contributed revenue, from public and private sources. Annual funding from various public sources, such as SaskCulture and the City of Saskatoon, is estimated at $300,000 per year. Earned sources of revenue include admissions, memberships, school groups, private functions, birthday parties, summer camps, fundraising events, and sublets. As part of the ongoing capital campaign discussions, several corporations have expressed strong interest in funding ongoing programming in addition to capital, in order to ensure financial stability. The Children’s Discovery Museum is committed to ensuring our core value of Good Business is kept at the forefront to ensure success and sustainability.
What efforts have been made to coordinate with the Science Centre?
The CDM has engaged in several preliminary conversations with the Saskatchewan Science Centre. There is a strong willingness amongst both organizations to work collaboratively on areas of shared interest – particularly in the promotion and delivery of learning opportunities for young children across the province. Some examples of collaboration discussed include stationing a Science Centre staff member at the new CDM, hosting visiting exhibitions periodically, sharing exhibits between the two locations, collaborating on joint programming and outreach initiatives, collaborating on joint funding applications; and, providing reciprocal memberships. Conversations with the Science Centre will continue through the next two years of detailed exhibit design and program development.
What has the City of Saskatoon contributed to this project?
The City is committing to upgrade the Mendel building's mechanical and electrical systems before the CDM moves in, as part of the ongoing Civic Building Comprehensive Maintenance program. In addition, the City is paying property tax on the building, leasing it below market cost, and entering a $70,000/year programming agreement to align CDM programming with the City's strategic programming priorities for the Kinsmen Park area. The City has also provided $50,000 from the Community Support Grant Reserve to date and the CDM anticipates receiving annual funding from the Cultural Grant Program when the new museum opens.
Are other levels of government contributing to the capital project?
We have had conversations with both the Federal and Provincial government, and have submitted proposals to both governments. We are waiting to hear back on their decision.
Is capital revenue funding your current operations in Market Mall?
No, we are keeping finances separate. The funds raised through the capital campaign will go directly to capital costs including design, renovation/construction, exhibits and fundraising.
Will the current museum in Market Mall stay open until the new facility in the Mendel opens?
We will continue to operate the Market Mall facility as long as it makes sense to do so. We will very likely close the existing facility when the opening of the new facility is imminent. During the transition time, we would focus on outreach, staff development, program development, and final preparation of the new facility.
Why do you use the word museum in your name? Are you a “real” museum?
Yes, in the sense that a museum is a place of learning, we are. We are just a different kind of museum where everything is hands-on and interactive, and visitors can explore the exhibits in their own way, and even become part of the exhibits.
Will you change your name?
Maybe. We will work together with our lead donor to determine the name of the new museum.