Five years after it opened, the Working Wonders Children’s Museum in the Old Mill District will close, officials announced Friday.
The museum has not been able to raise enough money during the recession to continue operating.
Museum board members made the decision Friday morning to close in a week, according to an e-mail from Executive Director DeeDee Erhard. Erhard did not return calls for comment late Friday.
Working Wonders teaches children about art, science, math and other subjects as they play in Kaleidoscope Corner, MindStein’s Lab, WonderMart grocery store and other exhibits. The museum also offers regular events, such as Saturday Creations and Super Science Sunday, that provide activities focused on art, science, the environment and other subjects.
“I think Working Wonders has really contributed to the lives of the young children and given parents an educational option to bring their kids to and play,” said board member Natalie Hummel on Friday evening. Hummel said the board decided to close Working Wonders while it still had money to pay staff and move exhibits out of the building.
“We are moving everything into storage, but the entity as it is now will be dissolved,” Hummel said.
About two months ago, staff at the nonprofit announced a revenue shortfall and said the museum would likely close if it could not raise $200,000 by Oct. 1. As of early September, the museum was about 40 percent of the way toward that goal. However, Hummel said many of the donations were in-kind, and “we just didn’t have the cash we needed to make things happen.”
The museum’s operating budget is about $475,000.
Working Wonders employs four salaried staff and a handful of hourly workers, Hummel said.
In addition to the fundraising woes that many nonprofits have faced, Working Wonders had many sponsors in the real estate and construction industries, which have suffered from the housing market crash, according to a previous report in The Bulletin.
More than 170,000 children have visited the museum since it opened in September 2004, according to a news release issued Friday.
Working Wonders’ last day will be Oct. 3, and the museum will have celebratory events in honor of its five-year history, according to the news release. The museum is at 520 S.W. Powerhouse Drive, Suite 624, in Bend. For more information, call 541-389-4500 or visit www.workingwonders.org.
“If there is someone who can step up between now and Sept. 30, we would be very happy to keep our doors open,” Hummel said.