PHILADELPHIA, PA – Please Touch Museum – the iconic Philadelphia landmark located in Fairmount Park’s historic Memorial Hall – will ring in its 40th birthday on October 2 with a celebration of its long legacy and bright and vibrant future. In honor of its 40 years of providing children opportunities to learn through play, the Museum will offer all guests 40 percent discounted admission to the birthday celebration. 1976 is the year the Please Touch Museum opened in Philadelphia, and the Museum’s Kids Shop will feature toys from each decade of the past 40 years. The 40th birthday party will include a presentation by Mayor Jim Kenney, live music and performances, and dancing with Philadelphia-based dancer and choreographer Roger Lee. The Museum will open on October 2 at 11 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.
“Throughout the past 40 years, the Please Touch Museum has followed our founders’ vision to serve as a champion of early childhood learning and the leading voice for the power of purposeful play for children,” said Patricia (Trish) Wellenbach, President and Chief Executive Officer, Please Touch Museum. “This birthday celebrates our legacy, but most importantly, provides us an opportunity to celebrate the vibrant future of this museum, which will thrive and continue to provide magical moments for children and their families for 40 more years and beyond.”
Founded in 1976 by Montessori educator Portia Speer, Please Touch Museum has flourished into a nationally- recognized premier children’s museum with unparalleled expertise in early childhood education and play, welcoming millions of visitors through its doors in 40 years. The Museum began as a 2,200-square-foot pilot project in Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, and expanded in 1978 to a larger space at 1910 Cherry Street. In 1983, the Museum Board of Directors approved the purchase and renovation of a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building at 210 North 21st Street. After establishing its roots here, the Museum grew attendance by 70 percent and memberships by 52 percent, and earned accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Before long, the Museum expanded its exhibit space by 40 percent by purchasing the building adjacent to it on North 21st Street.
While approaching its 30 year anniversary, the Please Touch Museum Board of Directors began an extensive, three-year restoration of historic Memorial Hall, which was beautifully concepted and constructed in Fairmount Park for the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition, the first World’s Fair in the United States. In 2008, the doors opened to the Museum’s new home, which features a restored carousel from 1903-1908 and the iconic 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s arm and torch, handcrafted with common items such as children’s toys by famed artist Leo Sewell, that greets every visitor upon entering Memorial Hall.
“We are excited to commemorate such an important milestone for an institution that is so deeply rooted into the hearts and minds of our community’s families,” concluded Wellenbach. “Everyday, we have the distinct privilege of watching grandparents and parents relive their favorite Please Touch Museum memories here again with the newest members of their families, and we encourage all generations who have been touched by this wonderful place to join us in celebrating 40 magical years of learning through play.”
About Please Touch Museum
Please Touch Museum is dedicated to enriching the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play. Recognized locally and nationally as one of the best children’s museums, Please Touch Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $17 for adults and children age one and over. Children under one are free. For more information, please call 215-581-3181, or visit our website at www.pleasetouchmuseum.org.
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