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KidsQuest Museum announces move downtown
Currently located in the Factoria Mall, Bellevue's KidsQuest Children's Museum announced it will expand and move into the now closed Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art in downtown Bellevue in 2015. The museum - which averages more visitors per square foot than any children’s museum in the country - will hit its 1,000,000th visitor later this month.
“The buzz around KidsQuest has grown far beyond what we could have expected – we’ve been at capacity almost since we opened,” said Putter Bert, executive director and 26-year veteran in the children’s museum industry. Bert and Whyel have been in talks since 2011, when the Whyel family agreed that KidsQuest would be the ideal non-profit to occupy the iconic Bellevue structure.
"We're just thrilled that any museum as successful as KidsQuest, that deals with the education of children, sought us out," Whyel said. "It thrills us and adds to the enjoyment."
The new 13,500 foot location will offer hands-on learning and exploration through state of the art exhibits, three times the number of educational classes and workshops, expanded partnerships and extended community outreach.
As part of the expanded museum, KidsQuest's new home will feature a rotating exhibit of dolls from the Whyel collection. And while the exact exhibits have not been decided upon, Whyel said they will be ideal for the museums's demographic (children 8 and under).
"We talked about possibilities, but ultimately, it will be up to [the museum curators] to decide."
The Whyel family will spend the next year documenting the permanent collection in one form or another to serve as a keepsake for both the family and the re-vamped museum. Whyel has also begun to sell some dolls from the collection.
KidsQuest is currently in a six month period of site due diligence. The building will be paid for through a combination of short- and long-term financing, and private funds raised through a capital campaign. While the museum hopes to open its new location in 2015, it will take time to raise the money necessary to fund the move and expansion.
Another concern is the limited parking currently available at the Wheyl building. Bert said the museum will be working with community partners during due diligence to come up with an answer for this problem.