January 7, 2011

Norwalk, CT – The renovation and expansion of Stepping Stones Museum for Children was a massive, community-involved undertaking that included the support of hundreds of individuals, large and small businesses and corporations and local and state officials, as well as more than 300 construction workers, engineers, trades people and countless others who knocked down walls and mounted fresh ones, carefully took down exhibits and dreamed up innovative and interactive displays.

“We were beyond thrilled to re-open our doors and debut the new Stepping Stones Museum for Children,” said Rhonda Kiest, executive director for the museum. “In addition to the beautiful new space, we’ve enhanced our most popular exhibits to make them fresh and exciting, and have added new programs, workshops and activities that open up new ways of learning and discovery.” 

Named one of America’s Top 50 children’s museums, Stepping Stones features interactive exhibits, educational programs and fun for the whole family. The 22,000 square feet expansion of the museum, made possible with by a $9.17 million qualified equity investment (QEI) throughNDC’s HEDC New Markets, Inc., doubles the size of the museum, making space for additional galleries,  new exhibits, increased classroom and resource center capacity, traveling exhibits, a state-of-the-art multimedia gallery and more multi-purpose space to generate other earned income. The LEED Certified (Gold level)celebrates the use of natural, renewable energy sources through the use of energy-efficient building materials, solar panels and a windmill, and energy saving practices.  The project created 177 full-time equivalent (FTE) construction jobs, 20 FTEs at the museum, and 4 FTEs at tenant businesses.

Among the most notable attractions is the technologically unique Multimedia Gallery designed to help prepare children for a changing and diverse world. The Multimedia Gallery, a theater, technology lab and broadcast-ready environment, includes a 33 x 12 foot immersive high-definition screen, interactive floor projection, video-conferencing technology and a state-of-the-art camera, lighting and sound system. Programs will include distance learning, live performances, interactive games, short films, youth-hosted forums and opportunities to create meaningful and relevant connections with children, communities and cultures around the world.

Joining exhibit favorites Build It!, Healthyville and Rainforest Adventure is the exciting new exhibit Energy Lab,  a futuristic, wet and windy environment designed to inspire children to explore and invent while learning about the science of energy and energy sources.

Also new is Tot Town, based on the latest research in early childhood development and play and designed to promote literacy for little learners. Nursery rhymes, placed throughout the exhibit, play a large role in the museum.  Tot Town encourages infants and toddlers to investigate the real world in ways that stretch all of their abilities just as nursery rhyme characters call on all their skills and senses to investigate and explore their imaginary world.

Outdoors at the museum, visitors can explore and enjoy the Community Garden which includes an array of individual mini-gardens and a trio of whimsical, 12-foot tall, renewable energy-powered musical sculptures.  Rounding out the expansion is a larger and more robust parent and teach resource center, an all new art studio, a science lab, an expanded Café and the Age of Reason museum store.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children is an award winning, private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) children’s museum committed to broadening and enriching the lives of children, open 7 days a week from 10 am-5 pm.  For more information about the grand re-opening, to book a field trip or schedule a class, workshop or facility rental call 203-899-0606 or visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org.