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Children’s museum nears approval for a Canalside location

East Aurora’s Explore & More Children’s Museum will still move to Canalside, but a new spot for it has been found, a museum spokeswoman said.

A new proposal calls for locating the museum in a new four-story building farther west on the South Aud block site.

“We needed to take the time to make sure this parcel was everything the last one was and more, and that it could deliver for the plans we have,” said Jen Fee, Explore & More’s spokeswoman. “The answer is, yes, it does.”

An earlier plan for a multi-use building – in which the museum would occupy 40 percent of the space rent-free – fell through in June after officials realized the project couldn’t succeed without additional public subsidies.

A vote to approve the museum’s proposed new location is expected Wednesday, when board members of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. meet. The state agency owns the land.

The museum’s square footage would increase slightly at the new location, with room for future expansion, Fee said.

The footprint would be more “solidly rectangular, without as many angles,” she said.

The new location also would provide more room for outdoor programming, something Explore & More has provided at Canalside for the past few summers.

The delays over where to locate the museum means its opening is at least two years away.

“It would be safe to say we’ll be opening in 2018,” Fee said.

The museum has raised $7.3 million toward its $10 million goal. The cost now could possibly be higher, Fee said.

Plans call for eight permanent exhibit spaces for children up to age 12 across 40,000 square feet of space.

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. has agreed to pay $8 million to plan and construct the building, with the museum responsible for the interior costs and building exhibits.

The museum also supports the idea of a historic carousel coming to Canalside as a natural addition for children, Fee said.

“It could be a great complement to the family atmosphere at Canalside,” Fee said. “They have been very successful, and we would love to see them at Canalside.”

email: msommer@buffnews.com