The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday March 20th

50,000 enjoy kidz museum

Search continues for a bigger space

Two-year-old Ivan Krivacka from Hillsborough had his first Kidzu Children's Museum experience Wednesday morning. After an arts and crafts session and pressing different buttons to make Herald - the inflatable dragon - come to life, Ivan played with fire. "I cooking apples!" he exclaimed to his grandmother, Joan Witt. He threw a red plastic fruit into a bucket sitting atop the flickering pseudo-flame of an open stove. "Yes, you are such a good cook," Witt replied with a smile as she helped him turn the handle of the nearby play rotisserie. After hearing about the museum's popularity, Joan Witt and her husband, Peter, of Chapel Hill, decided to join the museum for the annual family dues of $75 for when their grandchild comes to town. "We think it's wonderful," Peter Witt said two hours into the family's visit. "I thought we'd be out of here long ago, but he's engrossed." "It has been so successful, so we decided to join," Joan Witt said. In fact, Kidzu celebrated its 50,000th visitor Dec. 21, which Executive Director Cathy Maris said was no small feat for a local museum that opened less than two years ago in March 2006. "Most new children's museums in their second year of opening see a 30 percent drop in attendance," Maris said. From the time the museum opened until the end of 2006, the museum saw about 27,000 visitors, Maris said. "There's been an enthusiastic embrace of the museum from the community," she said. Peppy Linden, executive director of the Virginia Discovery Museum in Charlottesville, also said that it is "not hard to start a children's museum, but difficult to sustain it." She attributed diminished interest in museums after the opening year to the initial novelty that eventually loses its luster. But the Discovery Museum, which opened in 1986 with 1,000 square feet of gallery space and has since expanded to 4,000 square feet of gallery space, is proof that children's museums can still attract visitors long after opening. "Last year we had 53,909," Linden said. "That was our record." Kidzu still is looking to expand from its leased location at 105 E. Franklin St. of 2,700 square feet to a site measuring 15,000 to 20,000 square feet. "This is really a pivotal year for Kidzu," Maris said. "We've demonstrated success at our current site and overshot our projections, but we can't sustain ourselves in this location indefinitely." Contact the City Editor at


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