Archive for Thursday, July 6, 2006

Group hopes to open new museum for children’s books

July 6, 2006

Brooke Wickey doesn't mind getting her fingers a little dirty for an art project.

"It's kind of fun," the 6-year-old Starside Elementary School student said as she made a fish stamp. "I liked the story."

The De Soto Library hosted a "Beyond the Book" program Thursday about fish prints. The children were read stories about fish and then made crafts using fish and paint. Although the children's fish were really plastic, the ancient art of Gyotaku was used in Japan to keep fishing records, Basehor-Linwood Middle School reading teacher Kelly Bobbitt said.

Bobbitt is a volunteer with Beyond the Book, whose goal is to build a children's museum dedicated to literature and stories.

"I teach to pay the bill, but I love working with kids and getting them excited about reading," she said.

Lenexa resident Lauranne Hess officially incorporated Beyond the Book as a nonprofit entity in Kansas in 2003. Since then, they've been developing programs, recruiting volunteers and raising money to build the museum. Although the organization is based in Lenexa for now, Hess said it had not yet decided on a location for its children's museum.

"We'll probably do a Johnson County site, but we're still not sure yet," she said. "We want to build something that has world class design -- a magical learning place that can be a hub for various educational programs."

Beyond the Book has partnerships with the Johnson County and Kansas City, Mo., libraries and currently operates programs out of the Wonderscope Children's Museum. Hess said the Beyond the Book museum would be unlike any museums in the Kansas City metropolitan area like Science City at Union Station, Wonderscope or the Children's Museum of Kansas City. While Wonderscope teaches about the physical and natural world, the children's museum teaches art and culture and Science City teaches science and technology, Beyond the Book will focus on stories and imagination, Hess said.

"We don't want to replicate stuff that's out there," she said. "We want to tie it together."

The organization's goal is to have the museum built around 2007-2008.

Hess said Haizlip Studio, a group from Tennessee that specializes in museum design, would design the building. She said there would be several different ideas -- maybe a forest where children can read, or a tree house or a storybook village.

"We want to build a place where kids can experience a book," she said. "We want to focus on family learning rather than teaching just the child."

Programs already offered by the organization are developed around books, art and animals.

For example, in the Crab Hats program, children listen to stories, look at hermit crabs and decorate a hermit crab helmet.

The next step for the organization is to conduct a feasibility study as to the design, location and cost of the project. After the study, Hess said Beyond the Book will begin an extensive capital campaign to raise about $15 to $20 million for the museum.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.