Crowd pleaser

Youngsters run the store at the North Country Children’s Museum Kids Co-Op and Bakery on July 3. This encourages imaginative play, healthy eating and using mathematical concepts such as numeracy and measuring. CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

Numbers don’t lie. The North Country Children’s Museum is an unqualified success.

In its first year of operation the museum has drawn 18,000 visitors; it expected 10,000. The museum has 600 family memberships; it expected 200.

The museum’s success tells a story about trust in the market and the power of collaboration.

There is obviously a need for high-quality entertainment for families and children that goes beyond the occasional family friendly movie. Parents were ready to get their kids into an entertainment space that allows them to have fun, learn something and help see the world in a different way.

The museum’s board of directors and museum director Sharon V. Williams deserve a lot of credit for taking what was once weekend science activity days in borrowed space to this full-fledged, interactive, sophisticated learning experience.

They weren’t alone. Collaboration has been the key to success all along.

Housed in the Red Barn at 10 Raymond St. in Potsdam, the museum will soon have a 20th century John Deere tractor outside for youngsters to climb on. It was donated to the museum by the St. Lawrence Power & Equipment Museum and restored by high school students attending Seaway Technical and Vocational Center in Norwood.

Farm Credit East helped fund the project. A mini-play area near the tractor will have benches donated by Jefferson Concrete in Watertown.

A digital wall project created in collaboration with Clarkson University should be ready by the end of the summer. As youngsters move, they’ll see their silhouette transform into different Adirondack animals.

Plans include partnering with SUNY Potsdam’s Gibson Art Gallery.

Financial support from Canton-Potsdam Hospital, businesses and individuals has helped the museum offer a $25 annual membership rate to families whose children qualify for free or reduced lunches. The regular annual rate is $85.

In just a year, the museum has become one of St. Lawrence County’s gems. There are plans for adding more space and more exhibits as well as expanding programs.

Every indication is that the North Country Children’s Museum’s record of success will be repeated. Children and families in Northern New York will continue to benefit from the vision, hard work and determination of the facility’s creators.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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