WAYNESBORO — The Blue Ridge Children’s Museum has been in search of a home for several years to continue to provide families in the Central Shenandoah Valley opportunities to explore natural, historical and cultural resources in the community.
The museum obtained a building at 201 Short Street in Downtown Waynesboro just before the pandemic began in 2020, but postponed interior renovations during the pandemic while indoor activities were limited. Instead, exterior renovations began.
“I just wanted to keep the momentum going as much as possible,” said Karen Orlando, founder and president of BRCM. “It was really fun.”
Up next, Orlando said the museum will work with an artist to create a mural on the Natural Playground side of the building.
“What we’d love to do is make it an interactive mural with the community,” she said. On certain days of the week, children will be invited to contribute to the mural. “We just want it to be as interactive and community-participant as possible.”
However, interior renovations are still necessary, and the museum will hold a fall campaign to raise funds.
“Because all our prices went up since the original estimate [in 2020],” Orlando said. With a façade grant, the museum was able to paint the building at 201 Short Street and install windows.
Interior design plans include a mock Appalachian Trail through the museum for families to follow and enjoy activities, such as rock climbing, an art room, a mock river for pretend fishing and sail boats, and a room for children to play with lights and shadows.
Orlando said she did research on other children’s museums for ideas and determined what activities would make sense for Waynesboro’s museum.
The fall campaign will begin at the end of September.
“The more donations and grants we get, the sooner we can get going [on interior renovations],” Orlando said.
“People can use it whenever they want to,” Orlando said of the Natural Playground. But the museum requests that the public keep litter picked up. Orlando said the playground is possible through a grant with the Friends of the Blue Ridge.
On Friday, BRCM wrapped up the first round of summer camp for Waynesboro Schools Summer Enrichment Program in which the museum partners with the Waynesboro YMCA and provides afternoon activities for campers. The next round of summer camp will begin the week of 4th of July.
Starting Monday to Thursday, BRCM will offer Little Growers, a summer camp for ages 5-10, in partnership with Project GROWS. The camp is a big fundraiser for the museum, and slots this summer are sold out. Camp participants will help with growing food for Project GROWS.
“It’s such a great camp,” Orlando said of Little Growers. “I want to be in that camp.”
Orlando said the hope is to hire a company this winter that would begin interior renovations in spring 2023, and make it possible for the interior to open by summer 2023.
“I just think it will be a great partnership with the Virgina Museum of Natural History when it opens [nearby],” Orlando said. “It’s going to be a great little downtown.”
If you’re interested in volunteering for the museum, email [email protected]. Donations are welcome on the museum’s website.