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Kid Stuff Development

Pablo Foundation Makes $500K Pledge for New Children’s Museum

Children’s Museum of Eau Claire plans to break ground later this year

Tom Giffey |

A conceptual image of the exterior of the museum, which will be built on the so-called Liner Site in front of the city parking ramp on North Barstow Street. (Submitted image)
A PLACE TO PLAY. This conceptual image, released in late 2020, shows what the exterior portion of the new Children's Museum of Eau Claire could look like. (Submitted image)

The sound you just heard was hundreds of small voices cheering (virtually at least) about a sizable piece of good news in the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s quest to build a new home: On Tuesday, the museum announced a donation of $500,000 – the largest to date – from the Eau Claire-based Pablo Foundation.

The gift will go a long way toward helping the museum’s plans to break ground on North Barstow Street later this year.

“We believe education comes in all forms, from traditional classrooms to learning through play,” said MaiVue Xiong, executive director of the Pablo Foundation. “We are excited to partner with the CMEC to not only build upon its success in creating educational experiences through play, but to extend these types of learning experiences to as many people in our community as possible, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

According to a media release, the museum has focused on serving families facing economic challenges: “More than 1,400 children from low to moderate income households participate in CMEC’s Play for All membership program. Since the launch of this program in 2015 and because of generous private philanthropy, CMEC gave back $217,482 to the community through subsidizing these Play for All memberships.”

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire opened in 2004 at 220 S. Barstow St. in downtown Eau Claire. That location was closed last year because of the pandemic – temporarily at first, and then permanently. At the same time, the museum was beginning to make plans for a new, 26,000-square-foot new museum in the 100 block of North Barstow on the so-called “liner site.” In November, the museum announced that is is partnering with two Chippewa Valley-based contractors, Hoeft Builders and Market & Johnson, on the new building.

Design development is expected to be finished this spring, with groundbreaking during the spring or summer and completion of the building in 2022.

Here’s the full text of the latest announcement:

Pablo Foundation pledges largest gift to date for new Children’s Museum.

-For Immediate Release-
Tuesday, January 12 , 2021

EAU CLAIRE, WI – The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire has received its largest gift to date, $500,000 from the Pablo Foundation, towards the completion of their new museum. The new museum will be 26,000 square feet and will include new state-of-the-art exhibits, programming, a preschool, and outdoor space.

Pablo Foundation’s Executive Director, MaiVue Xiong comments, “We believe education comes in all forms, from traditional classrooms to learning through play. We are excited to partner with the CMEC to not only build upon its success in creating educational experiences through play, but to extend these types of learning experiences to as many people in our community as possible, regardless of their socioeconomic status.”

CMEC is a leader in serving low to moderate income families. More than 1,400 children from low to moderate income households participate in CMEC’s Play for All membership program. Since the launch of this program in 2015 and because of generous private philanthropy, CMEC gave back $217,482 to the community through subsidizing these Play for All memberships.

MaiVue further comments, “While education is the focal point of the Children’s Museum, we are excited that it will be incorporating other major focus areas of the Foundation, such as health and the arts, into its projects, exhibit, programs, and events.”

“In a short period of time, Pablo Foundation has established itself as a philanthropic leader in our community and we’re so grateful to have this support for our project,” said Michael McHorney, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire. McHorney further shared, “The vision and approach of the Pablo Foundation board of directors is inspiring and enhances philanthropy in our community.”

The Children’s Museum project team is currently in design development phase of planning for the project. This work is expected to be completed in spring 2021 with ground breaking to follow in spring or summer.

CMEC has also completed the formation of the project team for the new children’s museum. Lead architect will be Malcolm Holzman of Steinberg Hart. Malcolm’s work is world renowned and he is viewed as a pioneer in architecture. Steinberg Hart will partner with all local engineers on the planning of the project including Erickson Roed & Associates for structural engineering, MEP Associates for mechanical engineering, and Ayres Associates for civil engineering. Local firm, River Valley Architects, will also provide consultation and support to the project.

As previously announced, Market & Johnson and Hoeft Builders have come together in a joint venture to serve as general contractors for the project. Finally, Jack Rouse Associates and Chicago Scenic Studios will complete the exhibit design and fabrication for the new museum.

While planning of the project continues during the next six months, CMEC will continue focusing on forging new partnerships and building more support across the community – from individuals, volunteers, businesses and foundations.

For more information visit Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s website, www.ChildrensMuseumEC.com.