Franklin Countys First News

Western Maine Play Museum fundraising approaching $500K goal

Work continues towards raising the funding needed to open the Western Maine Play Museum in Wilton. About $23,000 is needed to meet a matching grant that will bring the total to $500,000 and will allow the museum building's renovation to begin.

WILTON - Fund raising for the new Western Maine Play Museum is closer to its goal of $500,000 after recently receiving grant awards.

A $7,500 grant was awarded through the Morton-Kelly Foundation to help toward the renovation of the museum building. In addition, Bangor Savings Bank recently donated $2,500 towards the project.

After more than two years of an active campaign to raise funding for the museum building's renovation, about $23,000 is needed to meet the $350,000 match required for a $150,000 grant from the Sandy River Foundation. That award grant would meet the $500,000 goal to completely refurbish the building located at 561 Main Street. The two-story structure, built in 1905, is the former home of the York family who donated it to house a new children's museum.

Since June of 2014, supporters have raised more than $100,000 through grants and the remaining balance came in from individual and business donations.

Once the $500,000 reconstruction goal has been reached, the museum will need an additional $50,000 to furnish most of the exhibits in order to have the museum open this year, said spokeswoman and board member Lori Lewis.

"Completing the play village will be the next major fundraising goal, but once the museum is operating finding grant funding should be easier, since WMPM will then be eligible to apply for a greater number of grants," she said.

Designed exhibits for the museum include various themed rooms, such as those focused on topics like nature, technology, inventions, trains and infant-toddler activities. Other ideas have included an imaginative play area with a grocery store, a doctor’s office, a car repair garage, and other Main Street attractions; a climbing wall, a puppet theater, and a stage for child-directed performances and for visiting performers and guests.

More recent donations to the museum include a new printer donated by House District 74 Rep. Tina Riley of Jay, and an extensive set of trains for the planned train-themed room was given by Michael Reid.

The craft fairs held in the fall by supporters raised more funding for the museum. Hand-painted glassware made by board members are still available by commission. Additionally, museum logo T-shirts, hats, LL Bean jackets, and Celtic harp CDs featuring Academy Hill School students and Lewis are available for sale. For more information on these items to benefit the museum, contact Elaine Fitzgerald at ilndbnd@gmail.com or Lewis at lorilewis@myfairpoint.net.

A benefit gala event, with live music, games, and lots of fun, is being planned for in mid-March.

Western Maine Play Museum, a registered non-profit incorporated in November of 2013, is led by a locally-based, 13-member board of directors. Those interested in learning more about this project can go to its website here or to its Facebook page here. Questions can be emailed to: westernmaineplay@gmail.com.

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