City Councilor Mike Morris of Ward 1 and his son, Quinn, look in May 2019 at plans for activity zones at the Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine in Waterville. The museum is soon to begin renovations to its home at 7 Eustis Parkway, the former First Congregational United Church of Christ. Amarinda Keys, the museum’s executive director, is shown at right. Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine is about to begin renovating the former church building it bought last November in Waterville.

Executive Director Amarinda Keys said the museum, which has delayed opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is soliciting bids for renovation work at the former First Congregational United Church of Christ at 7 Eustis Parkway.

The building is in great condition, according to Keys, but needs a number of interior improvements to prepare for opening, including an updated fire protection system and ADA-compliant bathrooms.

“After such a difficult year, we are so excited to be making such significant progress on our new location,” Keys said. “Once these renovations are complete, we will be able to start the construction of the exhibits. Our designs are just about complete, and I can’t wait to see them come to life.”

The museum, whose mission is to ignite curiosity and celebrate learning through play, offers many activities for children.

Although it had to close early and remains closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum offered reduced programming in 2020, including an online series of STEM videos through spring and summer that encouraged experimentation with household items.

The museum also presented five feature films families could view from their cars in the parking lot, and connected with the Viles Arboretum in Augusta to offer a fairies and gnomes festival and weekly walks with hands-on activities.

In Waterville, the museum organized a holiday light celebration and video calls to the North Pole to substitute for the festival of lights and Kringleville.

The general contractor hired for the renovations will work with the museum’s exhibit design firm, Field Magnet LLC of South Portland, and architect Margaret Innes of Studio E in Westbrook, according to Keys.

The museum, formerly located at 171 Capitol St. in Augusta, has served families for nearly 30 years, according to Keys. At its new location, the museum has a 3,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a similarly sized gathering hall, birthday party rooms and classrooms, bathrooms, offices, outdoor exhibits, playscapes and a kitchen.

Keys said those interested in bidding on the museum’s request for proposals should contact her at [email protected]

More information about the museum is available at www.childrensdiscoverymuseum.org.

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