For Immediate Release: April 10, 2009
Contact: Megan Fischer
Marketing and Public Relations Manager
(401) 273-5437, ext. 126
Return to Press Room


Providence Children's Museum Pays Off Mortgage


Providence Children’s Museum reaches a major milestone this month: making the final payment on its building mortgage.  “While the news is full of foreclosures, unpayable debt and failing businesses, the Museum is bucking the trend,” said Board President Carol A. Peterson.  “We’re debt-free and financially stable.”  The Museum will mark this important achievement with a mortgage-burning party on Tuesday, April 21.

The Children’s Museum purchased its property – a former factory and surrounding land in Providence’s Jewelry District – in 1994.  Having outgrown its original home, a rented historic house in Pawtucket, the Museum needed more space to serve its ever-increasing audience.  “When we reached annual visitation of 50,000, we had lines that stretched a block down the sidewalk,” recalled Executive Director Janice O’Donnell.  “As beautiful as that Victorian was, we didn’t own it, we couldn’t make it bigger or more accessible.  We certainly couldn’t have a water play area with those historic parquet floors!”  

The Museum’s Board established criteria to guide its search for a new site, including proximity to low-income neighborhoods, easy access from the highways, close to universities and other cultural attractions and in a “neutral” area to ensure the location would be welcoming to all.  “We looked at dozens of possible sites and did serious studies on several of them before finding the perfect home,” O’Donnell said.  

With lead gifts from generous supporters, help from the City of Providence and a mortgage with the previous owner, the Museum entered into a purchase agreement for the property and launched a $3 million capital campaign to fund the move, building renovations and 8,000 square feet of brand new hands-on exhibits.  By the fall of 1997, the campaign had surpassed its goal and the new Museum opened to the public.  

In the 12 years since that triumphant opening day, Providence Children’s Museum has continued to grow.  Its $1.7 million annual operating budget is supported by a balance of earned income, government grants and private donations – 40 percent of which is allocated to serving low-income children and families in need.  Attendance now tops 140,000 visitors annually.  The final months of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 brought record audience numbers – demonstrating that, in difficult times, families need joyful places like the Children’s Museum more than ever.

To celebrate the final mortgage payment, Museum supporters and friends will gather for a mortgage-burning party on April 21.  In addition to reminiscing about of the “leap of faith” taken to purchase the building and relocate and expand the Museum, they will look to the future as part of the Museum’s Play Works Campaign for Kids.  With over half of the campaign’s $1.5 million capital projects goal reached by the end of 2008 – and major building renovations and new Play Power exhibit completed last fall – Providence Children’s Museum is thriving and eager to succeed at raising the remaining funds needed to increase its play capacity with two exciting new learning environments.


Providence Children’s Museum – a joyful place for children and families.
The Museum is located at 100 South Street in Providence’s Jewelry District.  September through March, open Tuesday through Sunday and Monday school holidays, 9 AM to 6 PM, and selected Fridays until 8 PM.  April through August, open 7 days. Museum admission is $7.50 per person; always free for Museum members.  
Call (401) 273-KIDS or visit www.childrenmuseum.org.