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Museum supporters release design

Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum slated to open in early 2015

April 25, 2013

» click to enlarge «
State Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, far left, Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey, second from left, and State Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, far right, join Monika Rittner and other supporters of the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum during an unveiling of the design at the future site April 19.

MOUNT CLEMENS — City officials and the community got a peek last week at what the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum will look like when the doors open in downtown Mount Clemens in two years.

The unveiling of the 40,000-square-foot facility was held on the future site at Pine and New streets on April 19, during a ceremony at which time current and future fundraising efforts were discussed.

The rendering, which shows a two-story building with a roof garden, was completed by architectural firm Architects iN Design out of Virginia Beach, Va., a firm renowned for designing children’s museums and creative art centers across the country.

Monika Rittner, president of the Hands-On committee, said the property where the museum will stand was donated late last year by longtime Mount Clemens residents Gebran and Suzanne Anton. She said the site is perfectly located in the heart of downtown and close to public parking facilities.

“The museum will be a great resource for kids throughout southeast Michigan,” said Rittner. “It will offer educational resources, and will promote travel and tourism in Mount Clemens.”

The museum will feature interactive exhibits that present concepts such as construction, energy conservation, science and technology, math, and health and fitness, each of which are designed to encourage children to take an active role in learning.

“They will be having so much fun, they won’t realize they’re learning,” Rittner said, adding that while much of the exhibits will be focused toward children ages birth through 10, the museum is for children of all ages. She also said the subject matter will be aligned to the state’s curriculum standards.

There will be live presentations and traveling exhibits that will encourage school field trips.

During the ceremony, the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum also announced the closing out of its First Forty fundraising campaign. Rittner said more than $58,540 was raised, well exceeding their $40,000 goal. She said all First Forty donors will be recognized inside the museum for their contribution. The money was raised to complete the necessary Feasibility Study and cover organization set-up expenses.

First Forty contributors have been a mixture of individuals, service clubs and corporations. More than 25 donors gave the recommended $1,000 dollars campaign amount or more, while two dozen additional donors contributed up to $1,000.

Rittner said the next step is to launch a major capital campaign, and a more concrete opening date of the museum will depend on how much and how quickly money is raised through the campaign.

An early 2015 opening is on committee members’ minds right now, which isn’t too shabby a timeline since the group of local business leaders and activists formed in 2010.

Since then, the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum, the first of its kind in the area, formed a board of directors, gaining 501(c)(3) non-profit status, completed a feasibility study, hired a fundraising consultancy, secured its site, and hired a design architect.

State Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-Fraser, is on the museum’s board of directors.

She said she wanted to become a part of the effort to make the museum a reality by garnering support at the state level.

“It’s really exciting,” she said after last week’s ceremony. “Macomb is on the cutting edge of so many things in Michigan, and the museum is going to be a great asset, and it falls in line with what Lansing is doing, in terms of early childhood.

“It’s for future generations and for the future of Macomb County,” Lane continued, adding that Rittner’s ambition and desire to see the museum succeed has been like “a shining star.” “She inspired me to do all I could to help get this thing going. I feel privileged to be a part of this.”

For more information or to donate to the Macomb Children’s Hands-On Museum, call Monika Rittner at (586) 615-7928 or email Additional information is available at or donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 463101, Mount Clemens, MI 48046.

About the author

Staff Writer Julie Snyder covers Harrison Township, Mount Clemens, Macomb County, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools, and Mount Clemens Community Schools for the Journal. She has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2003, and attended the University of Toledo with degrees in journalism and photography. Julie has received several awards for her work in Arizona and Washington, including AP awards in Arizona for breaking news reporting and feature writing.

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