Correction: Children's Museum-Sesame Street story
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — In a story Dec. 13 about the National Children's Museum, The Associated Press reported erroneously on the name for museum's predecessor. It was the Capital Children's Museum, not the Capitol Children's Museum.
A corrected version of the story is below:
'Sesame Street' is star at new children's museum
National Children's Museum opens with 'Sesame Street' characters, though scaled back on cost
By BRETT ZONGKER
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Elmo, Cookie Monster and Grover have a new home near Washington as the National Children's Museum is set to open in suburban Maryland — though initial plans have been scaled down considerably.
The museum, featuring characters from "Sesame Street," will open its doors Friday in the National Harbor development along the Potomac River — a short drive for visitors from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia — after years of planning and struggles with fundraising. Its predecessor, the Capital Children's Museum, closed in 2004 on Capitol Hill. At the time, Congress called for it to be a national museum with a wider reach but did not fund the project.
Fundraising for the new museum fell dramatically short, and the budget was scaled back by about 90 percent from original plans. Project leaders refocused on opening the museum's first phase as soon as possible with what they could afford. They hope to open a larger outdoor play area in 2014, but officials have dropped plans for a bigger indoor facility.
"We have adjusted the scale of what we've done, but not the scope," museum President Willard Whitson said. "It is an adjustment, yes, to the economic realities, but we feel we are best serving our audience to be open as soon as we can."
The museum has kept all its major thematic areas spanning the arts, health, the environment and global citizenship, he said.
"I'd say we've actually come pretty darn close to realizing our aspirations," Whitson said.
Big Bird stands 8-feet, 2-inches tall — a statue matching the character's actual height — outside the main entrance, welcoming visitors. Three other costumed characters, including Elmo, will be featured at special times. The $6.5 million, 18,000-square-foot exhibit space includes a 130-seat theater, three exhibit galleries and activity rooms for learning.
Last year, officials were envisioning a $182 million facility with an indoor river and replica of the Oval Office. An architect was designing a four-story structure with a glass atrium, a wind turbine and rooftop garden. Corporate and private funding fell far short, though, due to the sluggish economy, Whitson said.
Prince George's County was the museum's biggest funder, giving $4.25 million. A $15 million commitment from Maryland was scaled back when the museum changed the scope of the project.
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