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North Country Children’s Museum plans for busy year ahead

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POTSDAM — With its chances for funding looking good, a new partnership with another local organization and a new season of the Museum Without Walls on the way, things are busier than ever for the North Country Children’s Museum.

The museum has partnered with the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, envisioning a shared Regional Arts and Interactive Learning Center in Old Snell Hall, in downtown Potsdam. The children’s museum would occupy one portion of the building while the Arts Council would fill the other, linked by a main entryway and cafe.

All of this is dependent on the museum getting the money it needs to make it happen.

Those who want to see the museum become a reality have some reason to be optimistic. Its application for state grant funding has been seen favorably so far. The project was highlighted by the state as among the top 30 regionally significant priorities from a group of more than 200 applicants.

The museum will find out whether it will receive the grant in December.

While Albany deliberates, fundraising efforts continue closer to home.

“We’re moving full steam ahead,” museum Executive Director Sharon Vegh Williams said.

For now, the museum board is focusing its efforts on “Founders’ Circle” donors, those who pitch in more than $1,000, but come spring it will widen its gaze to donors of all levels across the community.

The museum board continues to develop new curriculum for its Museum Without Walls, a traveling exhibit that visits schools and festivals around the county throughout the year. In 2014 the theme will be “Kid Power,” with activities focusing on health and fitness.

Each of the mobile exhibits allows the museum to test out the ideas it plans to use when the real deal opens, which is scheduled for fall 2015.

“We’re continuing to do development work; we’re continuing to do programming work,” Ms. Vegh Williams said.

The full museum is slated to have 10 permanent exhibits, three of which have been fully funded so far.

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