Majority Leader Peoples-Stokes and Assemblymember Rivera Announce Nearly $125,000 in State Funding to Explore & More Children’s Museum that Will Fill Funding Gaps

Funds will be used to improve visitor experience and enhance security measures at the facility as recognition of World Children’s Day approaches

Buffalo, NY – New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (District 141) and Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera (District 149) were joined by staff from Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum to announce nearly $125,000 in state capital funding to the facility, which will bridge the funding gap for crucial security upgrades and an improved visitor experience.

The funding will be used to reimagine the space to ensure the museum has the highest standard of safety for guests and will enable a proactive approach to safety measures that will establish the long-term wellbeing of visitors.

The announcement arrives just in time for the celebration of World Children’s Day on November 20, which promotes international togetherness and awareness for improving children’s welfare.

World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day, and November 20 is an important date as it is the day in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Since its opening in June 2019, Explore & More Children’s Museum has created carefully crafted exhibits that help children develop a deeper sense of our world, our community and their place in it, in an engaging way for children and adults alike.

Today’s funding announcement will allow for enhancements to the space that include but are not limited to:

  • An expanded admissions space to increase functionality and traffic flow.
  • A new retail and gift shop space offering mission-aligned, age-appropriate merchandise.
  • A continuum of the third floor to surround Moving Water, increasing capacity by adding a new floor where one does not exist. This will allow the museum to broaden its use of the NYS Office of Children and Family Services license by utilizing the space for the school-aged day care program.
  • The first-floor level, located along the canals will receive modifications to the Gathering Hall and Birthday Celebration rooms, expanding the events and conference space.

The renovations are part of a larger, nearly $2 million multi-phase project that will both grow capacity as well as revenue at a space that has become a destination for Western New York’s families and children. The project is aimed at ensuring Explore & More’s sustainability as well as its self-sufficiency well into the future.

This project also addresses space constraints within the existing site and will allow for future expansion — a much-needed consideration as Explore & More continues its successful growth in membership and visitor numbers.

Last year, the museum brought in about 160,000 visitors, with numbers for 2023 trending toward 185,000.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “The opening and success of Explore & More has further cemented Canalside as a major family destination in Buffalo. The Children’s Museum’s leadership, innovation and its staff’s ability to academically nurture youth will motivate generations of kids in quantifiable ways. I am proud to support Explore & More by securing capital funds to help them expand and reach even more families, now and into the future.”

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “Children learn through play. I can’t imagine a better way to invest state funds than into an organization like Explore & More which allows kids to expand their horizons. Through the past decade, we’ve seen Canalside transform into a tourist destination for thousands of families, and now, the area also boasts a world-class children’s museum. I’m proud to have secured this funding which will make this space safer and create a more welcoming experience that will allow Explore & More the opportunity to grow and continue their mission.”

Michelle Urbanczyk, CEO and President of Explore & More, said, “We are privileged to be a welcoming and inclusive space for children and families to learn, play and explore at Canalside. Our capital improvements not only expand our museum footprint but ensures the continued enjoyment and safety for our visitors. We are so grateful to the NYS Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Assemblymember Jonathan Rivera for their support of our community, the museum and this initiative.”