Children's Museum FAQ
United Services Children’s Museum
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why a children’s museum in St. Charles County?
The children’s museum will address an unmet need in the community. It is the next step in fulfilling our mission; United Services is a leader in preparing children of all abilities to reach their full potential. For 40 years, we have accomplished this through our pediatric therapy and developmental education preschool centers. But the community’s needs have evolved, and so must United Services.
Our families have told us that they do not have a place where the entire family can have a recreational experience that is fun for both children with special needs and typically developing children. We want to give all children the opportunity to learn and play in a fully-accessible environment.
Our museum will be designed for universal access. People of any physical or intellectual ability will be able to use the museum any day, any time. This fully accessible design extends not just to children, but also adults. For instance, a father who uses a wheelchair will be able to roll up to an exhibit and interact with his children just like any other parent.
By offering an immersive, educational, fun experience that is accessible to people of all abilities, all of the time, our children’s museum will make our community a better place to live.
2. Don’t we already have children’s museums in the area? (Magic House, City Museum)
The St. Louis area is fortunate to have many outstanding facilities that offer a fun environment for exploration and learning. Our children’s museum will complement these great facilities. We are looking forward to working together to create opportunities that will enhance the region.
Population growth is moving westward. Community feedback indicates a strong desire for increased experiential opportunities in the western part of our region.
Our children’s museum will be unique in the industry. While other museums across the nation are retrofitting their facilities in an effort to move toward greater accessibility, our museum will be designed from the ground up to be all-inclusive. Universal design principles will guide the architectural design and program development.
3. Where will it be? How big? When will it open?
The location, size and timeline will be determined during the coming months.
We are working with consultants with expertise in master planning, capital fundraising, and marketing of children’s museums. Based on consultation with these consultants and conversations with the community and key constituents, we will build a timeline for fundraising, site procurement and construction.
4. What will be inside this museum?
Children’s museums are places where children learn through play and exploration in environments designed just for them. They provide enlightening, interactive learning experiences.
In developing our museum, we will apply our 40 years of experience in therapy and education for children of all abilities. Our exhibits will address all educational categories, including literacy, history and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).
The exhibits will be immersive, experiential and universally accessible. Anyone who walks through the door will be able to use every part of the museum, all the time. Children will not realize that the museum was designed to be universally accessible. They will only know that they are having fun.
In addition to the museum exhibits, the facility will include a pediatric therapy and preschool center, providing the same kinds of services that we offer now. The therapy/preschool programs will utilize the museum exhibits, though the program classrooms will be in a separate part of the building.
5. How much will it cost? How are you going to pay for it?
The cost depends on the size of the museum we decide to build, the type of exhibits that are included, the location and whether or not we can use an existing structure. We are still working out the details and do not have a project budget yet. We are investigating options for financing the project including the sale of our current building; tax credits; partnerships with state and local governments; donation or lease of a building and/or land; and a capital campaign to raise private funds.
6. When does the campaign begin?
The capital campaign consultants will help us develop a fundraising schedule, once we have decided to move forward with the project.
7. What will happen to United Services? Is it going out of business? Will current services continue?
United Services is not going out of business. We will continue our pediatric therapy, early intervention, family support and inclusive preschool programs while we operate the children’s museum. These programs will benefit from the resources available in a museum. We are essentially taking what we have always done and scaling it up.
Traditionally, we have contracted with public school districts to provide early childhood special education services. A federal mandate directed school districts to provide these services. But for years, local districts were unable to provide them in-house. They fulfilled their federal obligation by contracting with us. Our experience and expertise made United Services the perfect organization to fill the gap.
School districts have spent years preparing to take on the delivery of these services, planning early childhood special education programming and designing appropriate facilities. By August 2017, all local districts will finally be able to offer early childhood programs as an essential part of the education continuum.
We look forward to continuing to have a strong relationship with school districts as we embark upon the next phase of our mission. United Services is excited bring a fully-accessible children’s museum to the region.
8. I would like to support this project. How can I help?
In what way would you like to help? We’ll make a note and keep you up to date on our progress. We’ll be sure to contact you when we are ready to move forward with the project. Email Jeanne Palombo or call her at 636-926-2700, ext. 109.