Let There Be Light
Louisiana Children’s Museum opens new facility
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.
The iconic arched blue doors of the Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) on Julia Street closed for good in July, marking the end of more than three decades in the Warehouse District. Now, after more than two years of construction and just over one month of closure, the museum has opened its cutting-edge $47.5 million facility at its new home in City Park.
Located on a verdant 8.5 acres of parkland and overlooking a lagoon, the building is flooded with natural light and was designed for LEED Silver certification.
“The new LCM will not only be a place to play, but also a place to learn and grow in a new way,” said Julia Bland, CEO of the Louisiana Children’s Museum. “In addition to serving as a resource to support parents and caregivers, the museum and grounds will celebrate the incredible capacity of young children in a wide variety of approaches. The children’s museum has been a significant community resource for 33 years. Our move to City Park has allowed us to reimagine a broader holistic approach to ensuring that every child reaches his potential.”
Inside the museum, visitors will find five interactive exhibits with the themes of literacy, health and wellness, environmental education, and arts and culture. Classic installations from the previous location, like the grocery store and bubbles, have been reimagined for the new space. There is also a life-size checker board that incorporates the sounds of New Orleans neighborhoods and a 100-foot-long water exhibit that represents the Mississippi River from its beginnings in Minnesota to its merging with the Gulf of Mexico.
The outdoor campus has been beautifully landscaped and designed to support the natural ecosystem in City Park. It features decks, bridges, sensory and edible gardens, a floating classroom, bio islands, wetlands, and a restored lagoon shoreline. LCM planted indigenous trees and shrubs to repopulate the grounds and attract wildlife to the area.
“We are thrilled that the learning experiences between children and their parents and caregivers will happen in such a beautiful location,” said Bland. “The magnificent setting of City Park, combined with a uniquely child-centered building and grounds, will provide an unprecedented opportunity for reaching children and families as we seek to realize each child’s potential and positively change the projection for our community.”
According to LCM, the organization’s previous location welcomed approximately 135,000 visitors annually. It’s anticipated that number will increase to 250,000 visitors each year at the new facility. Additionally, 20 to 25% of past visitors have been from outside of the New Orleans region, and that percentage is expected to increase as well based on easier accessibility from I-10.
To help attract tourists, the museum has partnered with New Orleans & Company. Through that collaboration, LCM has connected to travel publications, in-flight magazines and travel writers to help showcase another reason for families to visit New Orleans, as well as to tell the story of its new campus and expanded mission and vision. The museum also plans to reach out to school and family travel groups across the Gulf South and in the surrounding drive market.
LCM doesn’t have any concerns about relocating further away from tourist-heavy downtown.
“We are confident that the Louisiana Children’s Museum makes City Park even more appealing and exciting to families visiting New Orleans,” said Bland. “Families can find their way with a magical streetcar ride to City Park and spend the entire day taking advantage of the many amenities that City Park now offers for visitors of all ages — from the Louisiana Children’s Museum to Storyland, City Putt to the Botanical Garden, and of course the New Orleans Museum of Art and its magnificent expanded sculpture garden.”
LCM’s previous logo incorporated the red brick warehouse and blue doors of its former location. In July, it released a new logo designed to reflect the nature that surrounds the City Park campus. It uses bright shades of blue and green, as well as a whimsical child’s illustration that I have decided is a crab. The new branding can be seen throughout the museum, and a new website will be revealed soon.
Museum admission is $14, but several areas are free and open to the public, including the parent-teacher resource center, the literacy center and Acorn, A Dickie Brennan & Company Café. In addition to free museum entry and free programming, there are also three new family membership packages. For more information, visit lcm.org.