The western side of the museum
|Location||145 Brooklyn Avenue, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City, |
New York, United States
|Public transit access||Subway:|
B43, B44, B65
The Brooklyn Children's Museum is a children's museum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York City. Founded in 1899, it is the first children's museum in the United States - and according to some, the first one worldwide. It is unusual in its location in what is predominantly a residential area. Housed in a multi-level underground gallery, the museum underwent an expansion and renovation to double its space, reopened on September 20, 2008, and became the first green museum in New York City.
The museum's collection and exhibitions reflect its long history as well as the changes in children's educational needs over time and the changing environment. Its original focus was the presentation of natural science to children raised in an urban environment, but following World War II, technology and cultural awareness became more important. The underground gallery in which the museum was located following a 1975 move provided the ideal location for arranging evolving exhibits. The museum was not intended to solely attract the interest of a young audience, but rather to engage their minds from a young age. Children contribute extensively in the planning of museum exhibits, and have done so for a significant part of its history.
The Museum was founded following a proposal from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences (now the Brooklyn Museum) on December 16, 1899 in the Adams House. The museum operated under the direction of the Brooklyn Institute and received approximately $70,000 in funds from New York City each year to supplement the donations it received. Attendance grew quickly, with monthly visitation exceeding 13,000 by October, 1905.
In 1929, the museum opened the Smith House annex. Eleanor Roosevelt attended the ceremony. In 1930, the Works Progress Administration supplied hundreds of workers to the museum, which thrived in the Great Depression. Among these workers was Ellis Credle, who painted murals before her career as an author began. By October 1930, monthly visitation had reached 60,000 and by 1939, the museum had received move than 9 million visitors since it opened 40 years prior.
In 1975, the museum moved to an award-winning new space, housed underneath Brower Park at St Mark's and Brooklyn Avenues, following the demolition of the Victorian houses that served as its prior home. In 1996, the museum was once again renovated at a cost of $7 million to include miniature amphitheaters and a number of new galleries. Two years later, it became a part of Heart of Brooklyn, a cultural partnership established to promote tourism to Brooklyn.
In 2005, it was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In the same year, work began on the $43 million expansion that was to nearly double the size of the museum, and handle more than 400,000 visitors each year. As part of its commitment to environmental integrity and energy efficiency, the institution has taken credit for being the first New York City museum to use geothermal wells for heating and cooling purposes.