The next phase of construction of Explore & More Children's Museum's future home will start later this summer. As the exterior of the multi-story building comes together, the organization has chosen the contractor who will be responsible for assembling the interior.
Savarino Companies has been awarded a contract, not to exceed $5.25 million, to construct the mechanicals, finishes and features, soon followed by the exhibits.
"(Sam) Savarino has a good history. He knows the community," said Explore & More chief executive officer Michelle Urbanczyk. "He knows our projects. Sam has been a part of Explore & More through helping us with our Touch-a-Truck. He chairs our Touch-a-Truck, so he knows our mission. I think his values align with ours."
The next phase of construction will be marked with a cermeonial "handing over" of the building, from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to Savarino, Urbanczyk said, within the next few weeks. It is anticipated Governor Andrew Cuomo will be among the guests.
Ground first broke on the new Canalside home for Explore & More in March 2017. ECHDC provided $9 million to get work started on the core and shell of the building. When finished and opened in early 2019, the new home to the children's museum will feature several educational modules featuring local themes, as well as a cafe.
"I can't wait to see it. I can't wait to see the exhibits," Urbanczyk said. "I tell people that you see them on drawings and then you talk about them and then they come to life and you can visually see them. It's a whole different expectation. I'm over the moon and super-excited about it."
In the meantime, Explore & More's longtime space in East Aurora remains open and will remain open until the opening of the Canalside site. Urbanczyk says plans are in development to host special events marking the end of the East Aurora era.
The museum is also continuing a fundraiser to meet a $29 million dollar goal to cover the cost of its new home. As of the end of June, Explore & More was still seeking $3.6 million to reach that goal.