“The museum will be open for 20 more minutes.”
As San Antonio Children’s Museum employee Christie Carver spoke those words over the intercom for the very last time, founding board members Sherrye Macha and Claire English were taking one last look around.
“I just decided I had to be here,” said English, hugging Macha, who had been taking picures on her iPad of the museum’s last visitors and remaining exhibits.
Sunday was the museum’s final day open to the public, who will now have to wait until June 6 for the grand opening weekend of The DoSeum, the gargantuan new $46 million children’s museum under construction on Broadway across from the Brackenridge Park Golf Course.
Macha was teaching English’s young children at the Acorn School in the early 1990s when, after a field trip to the New Braunfels Children’s Museum, they and other mothers asked themselves, why doesn’t San Antonio have its own children’s museum? They decided it should.
“We built it from nothing,” said Macha. “Five or 10 people turned into 12, turned into 20. We just decided, every child in San Antonio deserved this.”
At the beginning, English said, a lot of people didn’t really know what a children’s museum was, so the group spent a lot of time educating the public. In 1995, their dream became a reality when the museum first opened its doors on Houston Street, smack in the middle of downtown.
As the women reminisced, Mya Johnson, 6, and her pal Analisa Clary, 7, sped past to play with one last exhibit.
Johnson’s mother, Blondell Johnson, looked for the museum’s Fiesta medal from last year.
“There were some here when we arrived, but now they’re all gone,” she said. “I should have bought one right when we got here. I wanted a little piece of history.”
The Johnson family are members; Analisa said it was her second time visiting. The girls are first graders at St. Thomas Episcopal School.
“I’m going to miss this place,” Mya said firmly, “because it’s an amazing place!” She said she was going to miss the airplane fuselage the most.
Houston Street was closed down at 3 a.m. to bring that plane in, Macha recalled. And while The DoSeum won’t have the same plane, it will have one, said Cristina Noriega, senior marketing manager for the museum – and it will be ADA compliant, meaning everyone will be able to enjoy it.
Before this last weekend, the most iconic exhibits had already been removed, Noriega said, including the beloved Molly Trolley and PowerBall Hall, where for years children had to figure out which pulleys, gears, flippers, and blowers would project light plastic balls through a maze of clear tubing to a net above their heads.
Both are being refurbished before their installed in The DoSeum. The trolley, Noriega said, will now have a video that will make it seem like kids are driving around San Antonio.
“Not just the tourist spots,” Noriega said. “Kids will be able to see their own neighborhoods.”