Wonderscope plans to build a brand new state-of-the-art museum in south Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A popular children’s museum in Shawnee is moving to the Missouri side.

Wonderscope plans to build a brand new state-of-the-art museum in south Kansas City near Red Bridge and Holmes in the Red Bridge Shopping Center. But before they can do that, they need to raise more than $12-million to pay for it, and they are kicking off their capital campaign Tuesday morning.

Wonderscope is teaming up with the Mid-Continent Public Library to share a building. The New Wonderscope will be 30,000 square feet while library will be about 20,000 square feet. The library will pay for their portion of building with a new property tax increase passed by voters back in November.

Courtesy: Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City

Courtesy: Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City

The children’s museum will have brand new, state-of-the-art exhibits on one side while the library uses the other side, with a shared auditorium in the middle.

Wonderscope moved into an old elementary school in downtown Shawnee in the late 90s.

Just this past summer, they spent $100,000 upgrading the exhibits, but the executive director of the museum, Roxanne Hill, has always had a grander vision.

When compared to Children’s Museums in other Midwestern cities such as Omaha, St. Louis and Lincoln, Wonderscope is small in scale and scope.

"When you look at our neighboring cities they all have these vibrant children's museum that have plenty of space and state-of-the-art-exhibits," Hill said. "That's what we are going to do. That's what we're going to build, so it is an exciting time. Yes we are moving, but we're getting something that's going to be phenomenal for Kansas City."

She says building new will double their size and give them more room to bring in the latest interactive exhibits. And she adds moving from Shawnee to South Kansas City, right off I-435, will give them greater visibility and easier access for families in both Kansas and Missouri.

Roxanne said attendance at Wonderscope was up 17-percent over the last year and memberships are up 74-percent, and she feels now is the time to create an even better children’s museum.

"We're not that far away," Hill said. "We're going to build an even better museum so if they've had fun here, they're going to have more fun and I hope they will make that drive."

They hope to break ground next year and have it built within the next two to three years. In the meantime, they will continue running the museum out of their current facility in Shawnee until their new facility is ready.