In Jacksonville two former elementary school teachers have ambitious plans to open a new children museum. Co-Chair of the Zing Zumm Museum board Liz Owens discusses with Public Radio East’s Mikel Peterson how the museum went from being just an idea to reality.
In 2005, Lani Beuerman and Liz Owens, co-chairs of the museum project, thought it would be a good idea to bring a children museum to Jacksonville similar to the one in Wilmington. They were teaching kindergarten and 1st grade before they retired. During their tenure as teachers they made frequently trips with their students to the Children Museum of Wilmington. The downside of that, the hour long drive to and from, ate into the school day. As Liz Owens began her research into creating a local children Museum, she took into account demographic information which sealed her faith in the project.
" Jacksonville is one of the youngest cities in the United States with an average age of 25.7, there are 70,000 thousands children in the region ages 1-8 years."
A feasibility study was conducted, and as part of their research Beuerman and Owens held a forum with community leaders. They also visited 20 children’s museums in the United States. In 2007, the group received 501-C3 status as a non-profit. A year later, the board of directors was established which includes a diverse cross section of community leaders.
“We have a large group of retired teachers and we have a doctor, we have a retired general, we have some business people in the community on our board and we just have some young mothers.”
In 2009, a county wide school contest was carried out as Onslow students were tasked to come up with a name for the new children’s museum. The winning name was Zing Zumm, submitted by a kindergarten student from Swansboro Elementary.
“Amazing, the zing comes from amazing and then she took the Z and put it in front of museum so it’s Zing Zumm” the end of museum.
Plans are for the Zing Zumm Children Museum to open early next year at the old Fire Station # 2 in North Woods. Owens says the museum will feature seven exhibits, each representing a different part of the imagination.
“We will have a construction area where the children can build with Legos or different kinds of blocks, but all of course very safe. An animal care center we have a vet in town and he says he wants to have an animal care center in there. The discovery center would be geared more to science. So, that the children can do simple little experiments with science.”
There will also be a performing art space and rooms dedicated to heroes, toddlers, and visual arts. Water activities will also be part of the new children’s museum in Jacksonville.
“We will have a grocery store because a lot of children are taken to the grocery store by their moms or dads, now the children will take their moms and dads to the grocery store. We will have a restaurant, again letting the children’s be the ones to go in there and serve their parents.”
Owens says they’ve raised over $100,000 for the museum but still need $400,000 more, and they are raising the funds in a variety of ways.
“we sell tiles on our website that will be permanently displayed in the museum and these tiles you can put on their in remember of or in honor of or thanksgiving for your children your grandchildren.”
The organization has also done a Zing Zumm Runn, a family fun run for the past two years to raise money. And this fall, the Zing Zumm Children Museum will start their capital campaign.
Besides raising the money for the museum they also want to make people aware of the fact that they’re opening a children’s museum by participating in community events such as Oktoberfest, the Kids' Exchange Event and Festival of Trees.
“We gone to things out on base, and some things we can sale or have games and activities for children to do other places it’s just for awareness.”
The organization has also hosted six Leadership Awareness Breakfasts where they explained their vision for the museum.
“We explained to them about where and what we have been doing, what our plans were, and they were very receptive. And we also are now going have some in people’s homes and invite people to come and hear again about our museum.”
Owens says the Zing Zumm Children Museum should be up and running by mid-2015. For more information about the new children museum planned for Jacksonville visit their website zingzumm.com.