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Explore & More taps Savarino to build interior of Canalside museum

Explore & More Children's Museum said Friday it has awarded a $5.25 million contract to Savarino Cos. to build out the interior of its new Canalside facility, following an "extensive community outreach and bidding process."

The East Aurora-based nonprofit broke ground in March on the $29 million project to construct a four-story museum in downtown Buffalo, on a portion of the former Memorial Auditorium property.

The first phase, funded with $9 million in state dollars from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., will wrap up this summer, with the state turning over the building to the museum and Savarino to begin the interior construction. The interior work, based on a design by Foit-Albert Associates Architecture, Engineering and Surveying PC, will continue through spring 2019.

“The first phase of construction of the core and shell will be completed on schedule this summer when the building will be turned over to us to begin the build-out of the interior of the new museum,” said Savarino CEO Sam Savarino in a news release. “The interior work will include all mechanicals, finishes and features followed by the exhibits, which will start to arrive in December. Installation of exhibits will be the final phase of the project.”

The new Explore & More — the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum will have a soft opening in December 2018, continuing as the exhibits are installed floor by floor through March 2019.

“This is a major milestone with the construction of our new home,” Explore & More Board Chairman Walt Zmuda said in the release. “We are on schedule to complete the project this spring. We look forward to inviting children from across Western New York and Southern Ontario to come experience the joy and satisfaction of learning through play.”

Construction of the museum, a key component of Canalside, is being paid for by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the New York State Power Authority and various other private donors that are sponsoring exhibits. Officials are still seeking to raise the remaining $3.6 million.

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