On June 9, Little Buckeye Museum’s doors opened for the first time in over a year since the pandemic shut the entire world down. And as those doors opened, so did the door of imagination for children once again.
“We're very excited about it. We've had good attendance already,” said Fred Boll, Little Buckeye’s executive director.
Like most businesses during COVID, Boll and museum manager Suzanna Hammond struggled with figuring out how to stay afloat since Little Buckeye could not open. However, the generosity of the community kept them secured as well as their eyes remaining set on opening the Imagination District.
“We had a lot of donors step up to help us financially continue to exist. We cut costs as much as we could. We kept working on the new building, all through COVID and doing different community outreach,” Boll said.
Although the building was closed, Little Buckeye continued its mission by providing free virtual resources and over 1,000 free Buckeye Bags to families in Richland County with the help of the Richland County Foundation Summertime Kids Grant, The Shelby Foundation Emergency Relief Fund, Park National Bank, the Mansfield/Richland-County Public Library, Richland Carrousel Park, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Marvin Memorial Library and the Mansfield School Employees Association.
“We wanted to continue to offer opportunities for kids to play and learn, even though we were closed. So, we decided to make these bags that have toys and different supplies in them. And we donated them for free to families in need,” Hammond said.
Visitors returning to the museum may notice some changes put in place to help provide a safe and fun experience for all visitors and will be asked to follow CDC guidelines.
Before shutting down last year, Boll and Hammond introduced a new kitchen in the treehouse portion of the museum. Though it was installed a couple of months before the pandemic, they did not get to showcase it as much they could. They’re excited to reintroduce it.
Boll and Hammond continue to send their thanks to the community for getting them through a difficult time by sending donations, keeping their memberships and understanding the importance of children's imaginations.
“The way children deal with stress is through play. And so I think it's so important that children have the opportunity to play, and deal with that stress. And so we're excited to be open and providing that again to the community,” Boll said.
Little Buckeye will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of Little Buckeye Children’s Museum should check out the museum’s Membership Chart to see their automatically extended membership expiration date.