The Western Maine Play Museum started as a little dream that grew bigger as interested people came aboard, then bigger when a family donated a big house, and even bigger when Upright Frameworks volunteered to renovate it at cost.

The museum, with exhibits that appeal to children and parents alike, began with community interest queries in the summer of 2013, and Angela McLeod, board president, assembled the Friends of the Play Museum in Nov. 2013.

On June 1, 2014, the Friends officially launched a website and a capital campaign with the goal of raising $750,000 to make the dream become a reality.

During the next four years, the Friends made significant progress.

In the spring of 2014, the York family of Wilton donated the building. The Board has been working on fundraising, grant writing and exhibit planning since then. They are in the process of starting to plan for the next steps of arranging for staffing and managing a business, according to Lori Lewis, vice president of the Friends.

Of prime concern were the unexpected requirements of a very large federal grant the Museum received last summer, which had strict stipulations about the necessary steps needed to secure the funding, Lewis said.

“We had initially thought that this federal grant would complete our fundraising, but as with so many grants of this nature, we’ve had to spend money to accommodate our project to its requirements,” Lewis said.

One of these expectations was that the museum hire an architect to work very closely with the board to fine-tune all the construction details of the project, including putting together a bid package that had very detailed bid specs for a general contractor.

This bid also included sub-contractors, customized build-outs of certain spaces and specific items or price limits for different finishes for items such as flooring and trim and other construction materials.

“This has been a huge and complicated undertaking, and thanks to Margaret Innes, our architect, the bid package is complete and is currently being negotiated,” Lewis said. Construction on-site is expected to start in the very near future.

Exhibit planning for the main part of the building has been completed by a committee working behind the scenes for many months. Should a person want to purchase an item for use in an exhibit, please visit the registry at www.myregistry.com/giftlist/westernmaineplaymuseum. Price points range from just a few dollars to more expensive items.

“We are grateful to our museum friends who have purchased many of these items on our wish list,” Lewis said.

For more information about donating, purchasing naming rights to one of the rooms still remaining and other ways to help, check out the museum website at www.westernmaineplay.org. or contact Lewis at 645-3945, or [email protected]. Western Maine Play Museum is a registered nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status.

All donations are tax-deductible and gratefully received.

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