It's billed as the world's first children's museum. Built in 1899 — the Brooklyn Children's Museum has always called Crown Heights home. But, for the first time in its long history, it's expanding to a new neighborhood. In a story you'll see first on NY1, Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez takes at the museum's new outpost.
When a child sits here to "Look Around and Draw Something," the bridge, the skyline or the park can all serve as inspirations. This new space located at the northern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park is an annex of the Brooklyn Children's Museum — the first time the 117-year-old institution has expanded beyond its flagship Crown Heights location.
"The museum has had a long tradition of working in parks," said Stephanie Wilchfort, president of the Brooklyn Children's Museum. "We've worked in Brower Park for almost all of our history. And we've also done work in Prospect Park and other parks around the city. But we've never had a permanent space in a park. And this really works so well with the museum's mission."
That mission: to bring first cultural experiences to children. In this nearly 1,900 square foot site, there's the museum's signature Brooklyn block lab, an arts and crafts center, plus life science and cultural exhibitions.
"We have a lot of instruments in our collection," Wilchfort said. "This is very cool one. Again, sensory sound and touch there."
The outpost has its own name — Spark. It's located on the ground floor of One John Street, a new condo building in the park's footprint. Alloy Development won the bid to construct here in 2013 partly because it provided a community space in the complex.
"We hooked up with Brooklyn Children's Museum and arranged for this space to be donated to the park and leased to them for basically free," said A.J. Pires, president of Alloy Development. "We donated the services to design it, we paid for the fit out of it."
The building is one of several built in or alongside the new park — to generate funds for the park's operation and maintenance. The museum also gives park users something to do indoors.
"What we're really excited about is that places like the Brooklyn Children's Museum, St Ann's Warehouse, the Conservancy's Education Center, all add to the richness of Brooklyn Bridge Park," said park President Regina Myer. "So for a mile and a half along the waterfront, you can have a variety of different experiences."
The museum's doors open to the public October 15.