Franklin Countys First News

Updates from the Western Play Museum

WILTON - Friends of Western Maine Play Museum are very likely eager to know what is happening at the museum, and what our projected date for opening is. The museum board is eager to make sure you know our latest progress.

Although not much seems to be happening on site, be assured that there has been lots of activity behind the scenes. In the last months the museum Board of Directors has been addressing many, many issues before the museum can open.

Of prime concern are the unexpected requirements of the very large federal grant we received last summer, which had strict stipulations about the necessary steps needed to secure this funding. We had initially thought that this federal grant would complete our fundraising, but as with so many grants of this nature, we’ve had to spend money to accommodate our project to its requirements. One of these expectations was that the museum hire an architect to work very closely with the board, to fine-tune all the construction details of the project, including putting together a bid package which included very detailed bid specs for a general contractor. This bid also included sub-contractors, customized build-outs of certain spaces, specific items or price limits for different finishes for things like flooring and trim and other construction materials.This has been a huge and complicated undertaking, and thanks to Margaret Innes, our architect, the bid package is is complete and is currently being advertised. A decision on the contractor to finish the construction will be made in the very near future, with construction on-site to resume in April.

Exhibit planning for the main part of the building has been completed, thanks to the committee working behind the scenes for many months. Should you like to purchase an item for use in an exhibit, please visit our registry Price points range from just a few dollars to more expensive items. We are grateful to our museum friends who have purchased many of these items on our wish list.

Despite this progress, the board now faces the challenges of moving from a planning and fund-raising venture to planning for opening a business: another varied and complex process. In our early feasibility studies, careful attention was given to making sure the museum would be fiscally viable; four years after those early discussions, our budgeting is still accurate and our financial planning is sound. Now, however, we need to address many other new issues, including hours of operation, admission fees, family memberships, sponsored memberships, and more. Finding a director is a process that involves creating a job description, advertising, interviewing, hiring, and orientation for the new director. Additional staff may also be hired, and it will be necessary to recruit a group of volunteers who will help staff the museum during hours of operation. The board is also in the process of creating a Policies and Procedure handbook, a less glamorous, but also essential task.

Progress continues in all of these areas, but we will all be quite delighted to see construction actively begin again. We thank all our friends for their continuing support for this project.

Upcoming is our Second Annual Spring Gala and Experience Auction, a very entertaining museum fundraiser. It will be held at Calzolaio’s Pasta Restaurant in Wilton, on April 7. Cocktails will begin at 5 p.m with appetizers and a cash bar, followed by a sumptious dinner and live auction. (Dinner entree will be confirmed via email prior to the event.) Some of this year’s “Experiences” that will be up for bid include a ride in a private plane over Franklin County, and a 5 day Caribbean Villa vacation. Tickets are $100 per person, and seating is limited, so do contact Jessica Lewis ( by March 17 to reserve your place.

For more information about donating, purchasing naming rights to one of the rooms still remaining, and other ways you can help, check out the museum website: Or contact board vice-president Lori Lewis 645-3945, Western Maine Play Museum is a registered non-profit with
501(c)(3) status. All donations are tax-deductible and gratefully received.

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