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Spartanburg’s youngest residents will soon have a new spot just for them. The Children’s Museum of the Upstate will open a location targeted for ages 5 and younger at 130 Magnolia Street in the city’s downtown. It’s a dream come true for many parents who bring their little ones to Greenville’s downtown for a day at the museum’s main campus, but it could also have an impact on kindergarten readiness in the Upstate.

“Probably about eight months ago, our board decided to do a long range strategic plan,” Nancy Halverson, TCMU’s president and CEO, said. “One of the things we talked about was ways to reach more children and to really fulfill our mission of being The Children’s Museum of the Upstate.”

With a quarter of memberships and visitors coming from Spartanburg, seeking a facility to meet the needs of those visitors seemed like the right course. The facility, which is about 6,000 square feet, will be also address a gap in kindergarten readiness in a smaller venue than the Greenville campus. Its smaller size will include early education and STEAM-based exhibits and programming.

“I thought maybe that’s the way we can be helpful,” Halverson said. “It made sense for us to focus on that 5 and under age group. It’s perfect – it’s a scale they can negotiate and manage without getting overwhelmed.”

The building is more than 100 years old and will need significant renovation. Planning is underway with local stakeholders and exhibit planners to determine what the facility will include. Halverson’s best – but early – guess for the opening is in early 2018. Memberships will be reciprocal with the main campus but a daily visit to the Spartanburg location will cost $5.

“In the venue, we will be serving the 5 and unders, but with outreach we will be serving those older children in the community,” Halverson said.

In Greenville, TCMU partners with businesses to provide thousands of free tickets to local nonprofit organizations. That effort will expand to the Spartanburg location.

“We will be continuing to reach out to find new partners in Spartanburg to make it even more affordable for families,” she said.

With the recent announcement, Halverson said the community’s positive reaction has already been felt.

“We have been just overwhelmed with the response we’ve gotten,” she said.

For more information about The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, visit http://www.tcmupstate.org.

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