By TORIE ROTH
Nine years ago, THEMUSEUM, on 10 King St. W in Kitchener, came to be.
It was initially called the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum, but underwent a name change in 2010.
Previously, it was a department store called Goudies. But it had been 20 years since furniture, clothing and other goods lined the floors and shelves. Instead, the building has sat empty and boarded up.
Eventually, the community came together to make a change.
“It was partially young families wanting to have a place for children but it was also the development of technology companies such as RIM, with the desire to learn,” said David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM. “So, they wanted to have cultural things for their workers (to do) when they moved to this community.”
The community raised $17 million during a capital campaign to create the building standing today.
People gave what they could, which ranged from $5 to $1 million.
Million-dollar donations were made by at least four RIM employees.
Currently, feature exhibits include “Arena” The Hockey Exhibition, which is a collaborative and engaging show on the science, history and art of Canada’s much-loved pastime. It is on until May 3.
Just a few of the permanent exhibitions include:
n Topspot, a colourful area designed for children up to four years old, so they can show their creativity.
n Construction Alley, where children can create a maze or fort using colour flags.
n And the Plasma Ball. Touch it and watch the energy try to escape through your hands.
When the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum first opened, their mission statement was “a place where art and technology meet to stimulate creativity and to motivate learning.” It was a place were visitors could apply their artistic imaginations to reveal the unexpected, unconventional, and even incongruous possibilities of technology.
THEMUSEUM’s mission today is “to scan the globe for fresh cultural content and use it to stage experiences that stimulate transformative connections for their audiences.”
“I would like it to become a premier cultural destination appealing to a broader demographic both by age and geographically and it to become sustainable,” Marskell said.
He was the director of marketing at the Canadian National Exhibition while the campaign was being held. He was contacted by a search firm that was responsible for replacing the CEO of THEMUSEUM. They asked him if he was interested and eventually made him an offer, which he accepted.
He has been the CEO for five years, and moved to Kitchener from west Toronto after commuting back and forth for a year.
As of this year, Marskell is now teaching an event planning course for the public relations program at Conestoga.
“I got to know some people at Conestoga, one of them being Mark Derro,” Marskell said.
“One day we were chatting and it just came up. From his perspective, I have the experience and from mine, I thought it would be fun and a good time in my career to give back to a school that has always been so helpful to THEMUSEUM.”