Construction at the new Children’s Museum of Tacoma kicked off this morning with a free community celebration.

The 8,000-square-foot interactive play space will undergo a $5 million renovation, including installation of all new exhibits, over the course of the next nine months.

Speakers at today’s event focused on the museum’s implementation of a “pay as you will” model of admission. Executive director Tanya Andrews said this system will knock down one of the biggest barriers families face when wanting to visit a museum – cost. Project management is being overseen by Todd Ward LLC and LA Cab. BCRA is the architect and Korsmo Construction is the general contractor. Exhibit fabrication is being done by Pacific Studios.

The museum supports children’s growth through play by addressing age-appropriate development, especially in the areas of creativity, social and emotional skills, cognitive and critical thinking skills, gross and fine motor development, and early literacy learning. These core early childhood experiences form the platform for play in the Museum’s five main exhibit areas: Woods, Water, Voyager, Construction and Studio.

A year ago, the museum signed a contract to lease 8,700 square feet on the first floor of the United Way building at 1501 Pacific Ave. and launched a $7 million capital campaign. The new museum will open to the public Jan. 14, 2012.

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