Douglas Love fit the bill when Explore & More Children’s Museum in East Aurora undertook a national search last year to find a CEO who could lead a $27 million effort to build a new children’s museum at Canalside by the end of 2018. Love, 48, has led a nonprofit children’s theater company in Chicago. He’s written 17 children’s books for HarperCollins. He created and produced a Disney preschool TV series, “Out of the Box.” He’s run the Walden Family Playhouse in Denver – leading a $27 million fundraising effort to build a new theater – and was CEO at a similar theater company in Miami when he arrived in Western New York earlier this year.
Q. Why is a move from East Aurora to downtown Buffalo crucial to museum leaders and supporters?
You look at big cities that have made a turnaround and they all have children’s museums prominent in their downtown districts. It’s not a mistake. Not only is it enriching these kids’ lives but we’re building the citizenry of the future. Not to mention the economic drivers: having a family-friendly downtown means a lot to a city’s revitalization. It has led revitalization in several major cities around the country. And it wasn’t lost on the state and its desire to bring Explore & More downtown.
Q. Talk about the planned museum.
First and foremost, it will allow us to reach 250,000 or more children. Right now in East Aurora, we reach about 60,000 kids, with about 15,000 we see at various schools and libraries around the entire region. It’s going to be a 43,000-square-foot, beautiful building with so much to offer and, because of our proximity in the center of our city, we’re going to be able to reach kids who perhaps can’t make it out to East Aurora. ... If you look at middle-income and low-income kids, just the number of words they hear is different (up to 30 million words by age 3, according to one researcher). We want to level the playing field. We want to help every kid in the community learn and build and make that connective tissue in their brains develop at the times it is most susceptible to building strong skills, not only for school but for life. Being in the middle of the city, I think we’re going to have an opportunity to reach kids who are underserved.
– Scott Scanlon