City Park just keeps getting better. This month marks the expansion of its Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, and later this summer, Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) will open a new, 8.5-acre campus in the park.
“The children’s museum has been a significant community resource for 33 years,” said Julia Bland, chief executive officer of LCM, in a press release. “Our move to City Park has allowed us to reimagine a broader holistic approach to ensuring that every child reaches his potential.”
The museum is geared toward children ages 8 and younger. Its five interactive exhibits focus on early childhood development using the state’s natural environment, music, and culture as educational fodder. It brings old favorites from the original Julia Street location (the grocery store and bubbles exhibit) alongside new additions ( a life-sized checkers board and 100-foot Mississippi River water exhibit).
Designed by Seattle-based sustainable architecture firm Mithūn, the museum also includes a literacy center, parent-teacher resource center, museum store, and Acorn, a restaurant operated by Dickie Brennan & Company.
Its lush grounds include decks, bridges, gardens, and a floating classroom. Landscape architects planted indigenous trees and shrubs throughout the campus.
“A focus on stewardship and sustainability has guided every decision we’ve made in this process. ... We have worked to take advantage of our new location, incorporating the park’s natural landscape and environment and highlighting Louisiana’s unique ecosystem of water and plants,” Bland said.
In the works since 2016, the new campus was funded by $17 million in private donations and $28.5 million state capital outlay funds, according to reporting by the Times-Picayune. It will be more accessible to local families than the current Warehouse District museum, thanks to its ample parking and location near bike paths and public transportation routes.
That means more Louisiana children will be able to enjoy the resources they so direly need.
“There’s no denying that early childhood resources are critically needed, as historically Louisiana has ranked near the bottom in key child well-being indicators,” said Governor John Bel Edwards in a press release. “We see the new Louisiana Children’s Museum as an investment in the future of our state’s children and families, and I encourage everyone in Louisiana to visit.”
The new museum campus opens in late summer, and admission is $14. The parent-teacher resource center, literacy center, and Acorn do not charge admission fees.