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MUSEUM ATRIUM TO FEATURE DINER, CAROUSEL

The Strong Museum, a history center for families with young children, is spending $3.9 million on a glass-enclosed atrium and two American artifacts -- a 1950s diner and a 1918 carousel.

The museum features the world's largest collection of dolls as well as thousands of toys, circus memorabilia, children's books, household furniture, miniatures and various objects of American culture dating from the 1820s.

The 12,000-square-foot atrium is to open next fall and will include a food court and a home for smaller historical exhibits, possibly antique cars.

Its nostalgic theme will be a cityscape depicting urban changes between the 1850s and today. At one end of the atrium will be a 1956 stainless-steel diner and at the other a 1918 merry-go-around.

The atrium will be funded by private donations from corporations, foundations and some of the 145,000 people who visit the museum each year. Its opening will coincide with the arrival of a "Sesame Street" exhibit based on the popular children's television show.

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