Old Town children’s museum working on expansion plans

A recent management change has given the museum more freedom to develop new activities and exhibits for the area’s youth, which could include a new outdoor area.

Professor Phineas T. Pennypickle has devised a grand new experiment.

For the past 14 years, children visiting the interactive museum in Old Town that bears his name have enjoyed the quirky genius’ inventions. They’ve followed the professor on time-traveling excursions, hopped in his hot air balloon to explore new lands and learned how gravity works during science experiences.

Firing up those imaginations and following the fictional character on his adventures is one of the key elements that will never change at Pennypickle’s Workshop, the Temecula Children’s Museum. But it makes sense that the never stagnant scientist is ready to try something new.

“The Friends have been operating Pennypickle’s Workshop in many ways for the past 14 years; recently the city allowed us to take over staffing completely to allow for more staff coverage and increased hiring capabilities,” wrote Pat Comerchero, executive director of The Friends of the Temecula Children’s Museum, the nonprofit that runs the museum, in a recent email to TVD.  “As well as that, the Friends are taking over even more financial responsibility, such as custodial and maintenance, as well as payroll and accompanied taxes, insurance, etc.”

Taking over these responsibilities gives the group more freedom to host special events and change the management of the business.

One of those changes could entail expanding the museum into the vacant lot to the east, which had been used as an outdoor showroom by artist Ricardo Breceda.

While some of the details still need to be worked out, the outdoor area may include exhibits exploring physics, force and motion.

“The outdoor space plans are temporarily on hold until the city and the Friends complete a more comprehensive contract that identifies where funding will come from,” Comerchero wrote.

The parties are hoping to discuss the project at the city’s upcoming Capital Improvement Program meeting.

If the outdoor space becomes a reality, it should help alleviate some of Pennypickle’s capacity issues. On weekends and holidays, and during the summer months, the museum gets so full it can’t allow any additional guests, which is a bummer for kids and parents alike.

Pennypickle’s Manager Izzy Kunert emphasized that Pennypickle’s won’t be raising prices due to the management shift.

Offering different hours and planning events such as a family escape room are a few of the other ideas staff is tossing around. And the museum will continue to host popular events such as the Girls Only Club and Frankenstein200 L.I.F.E. Laboratory.

“Events that get kids involved in science is a big part of it,” Kunert said.

In 2015, Breceda and the owner of the open-air lot talked to the city about building a two-story structure on the parcel that would feature a theater and a restaurant dubbed the Main Street Saloon. But that project never moved past the proposal phase.

  1. Kathy Bremner May 31, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Great story and pictures, Heather


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