May 20--With three days remaining in their online fundraising campaign and about half of their goal met, parents working to build a children's museum in Augusta are hoping more community support will make their venture a reality.
About eight parents launched the 30-day Community Funded campaign last month with a goal to raise $8,000 to open a museum in the old Hickman Park community center.
The museum, Imagination Station, would have a pre-literacy room with a library and puppetry theater; an art room with space for sculptures and painting; an engineering station with a two-story playhouse and activities focused on mechanics and design; a sensorimotor station for babies; and an exhibit on anatomy and wellness.
As of Monday, nearly $4,000 had been raised to support building materials and operating costs.
Co-founder David Hartmann said the group originally proposed the Community Funded model of an "all or nothing" campaign, in which donors would pledge money and receive a refund if the total goal was not met. Because of a technical glitch during sign-up, the campaign is now set up as a "get what you can get" format, which would allow the museum to keep any money raised, with permission of the donor.
Hartmann said the group would like to use the money raised so far to attempt to launch the museum but will still grant donors a refund if the goal is not met, as originally proposed.
"We want to follow through on our commitment and give everyone who pledged a museum," Hartmann said. "There is an urgency, and we still need a little bit of help before Thursday."
Hartmann said he and about seven other co-founders are working to launch the museum to provide more educational and recreational options for children in Augusta. He said that the closing of Fort Discovery in 2010 created a void in the community and that his group is aiming to fill that.
Imagination Station would be a co-op style model and run off the volunteer work of its members.
Parents could purchase a membership for $50 a year if they agreed to work two to three hours a month. Parents with less time to contribute at the museum can become a member for $100 a year.
"We're asking people to take a leap of faith," Hartmann said. "We want to do this for the community."
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