Children's Museum

  • 1990 Businessman Jerry Hyman notices a brochure for the Exploratorium, a science museum, during a layover at San Francisco International Airport. It sparks the idea to create in Greensboro a museum geared toward children. Hyman spends the next several years visiting other children’s museums and asking friends and relatives to bring him children’s museum brochures from their own travels.
  • 1994 Hyman approaches civic leader Cynthia Doyle about putting together a team to study the feasibility of a children’s museum and spearhead fundraising. Hyman himself donates a building, the old Montgomery Ward store at 232 S. Elm St. (now Triad Stage), for the project.
  • February 1997 The museum hires its first director, Tim Goetz, who had previously worked at the Children’s Museum of Arkansas.
  • February 1998 The museum offers a sneak peek with the exhibit “Pigtails and Hardhats.”
  • March 1998 The museum gets new quarters when P. David Brown, president of Gate City Motor Co., offers a 50,000-square-foot building on a 3.17-acre lot on Church Street across from the Greensboro Public Library. According to a 1998 News & Record article, the property sold for $1.5 million — $1.2 million of it covered by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, the rest by Gate City Motor Co. Children’s musician Tom Chapin appears at a fundraiser for the museum later that month.
  • November 1998 The museum launches the Kids Coin Campaign to try to get area children to raise $50,000 in quarters. About 15,000 cards, each with slots for 20 quarters, are mailed out and another 30,000 are made available at local McDonald’s restaurants.
  • May 15, 1999 The museum opens. The total price tag: about $4.6 million.
  • May 2000 The museum celebrates its first birthday. In its first year, the institution saw 130,000 visitors, 517 groups and 698 birthday parties.
  • March 2001 The museum hosts its Neck at Night gala, auctioning off neckties and other items donated by celebrities such as James Earl Jones, Richard Petty and former President George H.W. Bush.
  • April 2001 The museum breaks ground on its first outdoor exhibit, the Syngenta Learning Garden, to teach children about planting and nutrition.
  • June 2001 “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood — A Hands-On Exhibit,’’ featuring a replica of the set from the PBS show, comes to the museum. David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show, makes an appearance the next month.
  • September 2001 Cloud Nine Cafe & Yogurt Bar opens at the museum. It closes two years later.
  • November 2001 The museum hosts its first Make-Believe Ball for children.
  • January 2002 Child Magazine ranks the museum No. 36 out of the 50 best children’s museums in the country.
  • March 2002 The museum hosts the History Channel Time Machine, a 48-foot-long “mobile museum” that features exhibits on the founding fathers, engineering feats and the importance of historic preservation.
  • May 2003 Aardvarks come to Greensboro as the museum welcomes “Arthur’s World,” based on the children’s book character. The Gate City is one of 12 sites nationwide to host the traveling exhibit.
  • January 2004 “Face to Face: Dealing With Prejudice and Discrimination” teaches children about the sting of stereotypes.
  • June 2004 “Song of Korea,” featuring displays on the music, culture and history of Korea, opens.
  • August 2005 The museum helps kindergartners prepare for their first day of school and hands out supplies at its first Kindergarten Countdown Celebration.
  • July 2006 The museum welcomes its millionth visitor, 3-year-old Alex Henson of High Point.
  • October 2006 Director Tim Goetz leaves after nine years to take a job with American Express. The museum’s current chief executive officer and executive director, Betsy Grant, is hired six months later. She had previously served as executive director of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Miss.
  • March 2007 The museum hosts 200 children from Fort Bragg whose parents are in the military.
  • April 2008 Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton visits the museum and reads to children while in the area campaigning for her mother and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.
  • May 2008 The museum announces plans for its Edible Schoolyard, based on a concept developed by chef Alice Waters to teach about growing food and preparing healthful meals using fresh ingredients.
  • September 2008 Plans are unveiled for a major overhaul of the museum. Aside from the Edible Schoolyard, the expansion will include a four-story treehouse, a bamboo or sunflower maze and a greenhouse. Also that month, museum officials ask the city for $500,000 to help cover a $334,000 deficit from the year before.
  • September 24, 2009: Ground breaking for the Edible Schoolyard project.
  • May 2010: Edible Schoolyard opens. The Greensboro Children’s Museum is the first children’s museum in the country to have an officially licensed Edible Schoolyard, based on chef and author Alice Waters’ original program in Berkeley, Calif.

Compiled by Robert Lopez, News & Record Staff Writer
Also See eArchive for 10th anniversary article, April 19, 2009, Page D1 by Robert Lopez

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