March 16, 2012 at 15:35 PM EDT
Children's Museum reports surging attendance
The Children's Museum of the Arts has been flooded with visitors since it opened its new home in Hudson Square this fall. The 24-year-old museum, where kids exhibit works they create with the help of professional artists, tripled the size of its space when it moved from SoHo to a 10,000-square-foot home at 103 Charlton St. in October. Since then, attendance has quadrupled to around 12,000 visitors a month. Starting Saturday, the lines might get even longer. The museum is opening its largest exhibition ever, a multi-disciplinary installation by Japanese artist Misaki Kawai that will take over the lobby and gallery. “It is much busier than we expected,” said David Kaplan, CMA's executive director. “On some days we're seeing lines out the door of the museum and people have to wait for half an hour.” Mr. Kaplan has had to hire 10 staffers to help with demand and moved eight teaching artists from part-time to full-time. The crowds have been a boon to the out-of-the-way neighborhood, which mostly has the offices of cable networks. Since the museum opened, restaurants like Pret a Manger and Hale and Hearty have come to the area. Phil Mouquinho, whose restaurant PJ Charlton has been in the neighborhood for 32 years, says his business is up 20%. “The museum has truly opened a new world here,” Mr. Mouquinho said. “Now you have baby carriages and families. It's drawing people from Tribeca, SoHo and Greenwich Village.” The boom in visitors hasn't helped the museum finish its capital campaign however. Mr. Kaplan said they have raised about $5.8 million of their $6.8 million goal, and that securing the rest has been a slow process. “The real catch is once you move into the space, people wonder why you still need the money,” Mr. Kaplan said. Museum officials hope to raise $75,000 from their spring benefit on May 6, and a number of other fundraising events are planned.
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