The Saratoga Children’s Museum is moving to a new location after 20 years on Caroline Street in Saratoga as part of a long term plan to expand and reach more children in the Capital Region.
The organization, created in 1990 to promote a space for kids to be curious and imaginative while learning,will call the Lincoln Bath building in the Saratoga Spa State Park system home for the next 20 years, said Sarah Smith, the executive director of the museum.
She said the plan to move started in 2019. With the museum’s closure for almost 13 months because of the pandemic, it gave the organization time to figure out where it wanted to go. After talking to state representatives it was agreed that the organization would enter into a partnership to use space in the Lincoln Bath building.
“We’re trying to take the lemons we were given during COVID and make lemonade,” Smith said.
The move means the museum can offer more activities to more kids throughout the region. Smith said the museum sees anywhere from 35,000 to 40,000 people on average a year during normal times, but in the new space she expects the number to increase to anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 people a year.
The new location is 12,000 square feet, with an additional 4,000 square-foot courtyard that can be used.
“It’s more than double what we have here on Caroline Street,” Smith said.
The current building is around 8,000 square feet, with 20 to 30 parking spaces, said Gerard Wise, an associate broker with Roohan Realty.
Smith said work is already under way to create new exhibitions for the museum. The organization is also looking to add classrooms that can be used for field trips and other activities, as well as a space for kids with autism and lactation rooms for mothers.
Smith said there is a goal to reach more age groups too. Right now infants to 8-year-olds are served, but the group wants to reach out to children up to 12-years-old.
The location also offers new opportunities for partnerships with other nearby companies, Smith said.
The move does mean the organization will need to sell the Caroline Street facility. Wise said the building is listed for $2.25 million and has had multiple inquiries. The building is located in an urban residential zone meaning the area is primarily residential with the allowance of some lower impact commercial uses, like office space, if approved by the municipality.
Wise said he doesn’t think the building will remain on the market long, especially because it has parking and the safety features that usually need to be installed have been completed, such as a sprinkler system.
Smith said the entire move is estimated to cost around $3 million. Some of that is covered by the sale of the building. However, the organization is also in the middle of a silent capital campaign, where Smith said the organization looks for grants and reaches out for corporate partners.
“People are super supportive,” she said.
Smith said she plans to announce that campaign more publicly in about a month.
Bonacio Construction company is expected to begin work at the Lincoln Bath in the late summer and finish in early spring.
Until then, Smith said the museum is still serving 60 kids at a time at the museum with COVID safety protocols in place.