EdVenture children’s museum announced on Tuesday evening plans to open its first satellite location next year in Hartsville.
The Hartsville location will focus on serving families with children age eight and under with exhibits and programs that promote literacy, art, math and science. City officials have secured a building for the new museum on 146 W. Carolina Ave. in downtown Hartsville and pledged support for a portion of the satellite location’s operating costs. According to a news release from EdVenture, commitments thus far from the local community total more than $1 million to support the building’s renovation, exhibit design and construction, and underwriting admission discounts for economically fragile families.
The concept of a Hartsville satellite grew out of EdVenture’s program offerings in the area. EdVenture included Hartsville High School on its 2016 Chef Jeff Tour, a multi-location motivational tour for middle and high school students throughout the state featuring celebrity Food Network Chef Jeff Henderson, who developed his passion for cooking while a federal inmate, eventually becoming the first African-American executive chef at Caesar’s Palace on the Las Vegas strip. After the tour, Hartsville officials, community leaders and museum representatives explored other partnership possibilities, and determined that a satellite location was a viable option.
“A Hartsville satellite fits perfectly with our expansion plans,” said Karen Coltrane, EdVenture president and CEO. “We are inspired by the warm welcome in Hartsville and look forward to serving children and families throughout the area with a community-based museum they can make a regular part of their lives.”
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Hartsville mayor Mel Pennington agrees.
“We believe this will enhance downtown Hartsville,” said Pennington, “Bringing the know-how and experience of one of the nation’s largest and best children’s museum to our city is a good investment in our children and their futures.”
EdVenture’s location in Columbia is the largest children’s museum in the Southeast. Last year, the facility was visited by more than 200,000 and its after school programs in area schools served more than 500 Midlands area students.
The Hartsville satellite concept received a big boost from The Byerly Foundation with a leadership grant that will be acknowledged with presenting sponsorship of the facility.
“This project fits all three of our priorities which include enhancing education, community development, and quality of life,” explained Dr. Jerome Reyes, The Foundation’s chairman.
“I’ve learned that very few museums have the community impact that EdVenture does,” said Dr. John Dozier, chief diversity officer and senior associate provost for inclusion at the University of South Carolina and Chair of EdVenture’s Board of Trustees. “And as a Board, our job is to find ways to help the organization both deepen and broaden that impact. With the excitement we are feeling in Hartsville, combined with the experience of serving millions of visitors, a senior management team with nearly 50 years of museum experience, and programs that are nationally recognized, I believe we will make a real difference in the community.”
In March, EdVenture merged with the Children’s Museum of South Carolina in Myrtle Beach and plans to open a new location there in 2019.