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November 3, 2016
Looking for some great holiday gifts at very reasonable prices? Like the idea of supporting Western Maine Play Museum? You can do both by shopping at the WMPM booth at many area craft fairs in the upcoming weeks. WMPM will offer many different gift items that will delight your friends and family members: new LL Bean jackets and baseball caps with the museum logo, WMPM T-shirts for both adults and kids, hand-painted glassware, Celtic harp CDs featuring Lori Lewis and Academy Hill School children, mugs, totes, and more, all at reduced craft fair prices. All proceeds go directly to the museum.

Come check out what we have available at the following area craft fairs:

October 29 - VFW in Jay

November 5 - Spruce Mountain High School and also UMF

November 19 - Mt. Blue High School

WMPM appreciates your support!

Five Things to Know!

Very likely community members have enjoyed watching last summer's progress on the exterior of the Western Maine Play Museum, an emerging children's museum in Wilton. But they may be wondering about what is taking so long to complete the museum? Here are some answers from the museum board to the most frequently asked questions they receive:

When will the museum be open?

This is the question everyone wants the answer to! It's the $250K question, in fact. It depends on our funding. Since the board began active fundraising in June 2014, only $50K remains to meet their $500K goal to refurbish the building. Once the reconstruction
is completed, the board may consider a limited opening, and continue fundraising towards the projected expense of completing the rest of the exhibits, and future exhibits that will be rotated in. The initial projection was an additional $200K for exhibits once the building is completed.

Why didn't they just buy a place that was ready to move into?

When the board began looking for property for the museum in spring 2014, they looked high and low for available options throughout the western Maine area. They considered (and priced out) buying land and constructing a new building, or buying an existing building. A board committee spent many months viewing prospective properties. And then the York family of Wilton offered us their family homestead as a gift. We carefully considered all these options.
The financial reality of buying land and assuming a monthly mortgage payment for either a new or existing building was a daunting risk. There just was not money at the beginning of this project to commit to this kind of monthly expense. So the board decided to accept the gift of the York house, and decided that Wilton would be the museum's home. The York family home, built in 1905, has deep community roots, is a centerpiece of downtown Wilton, and despite its age, is in excellent structural condition. Reconstructing an old building, as many know, is an expensive project, but not nearly as expensive as the other options we had considered. Financially, it made sense for us. We would not have a monthly mortgage; monthly expenses (utilities, insurance) were manageable at the beginning of the project; and because the museum is a non-profit, the town of Wilton has waived property taxes.

Why is it so costly to fix up this building? I've fixed up my house, and it didn't cost nearly as much as the museum does.

Because we are a commercial space, serving children, there are many expenses that an individual homeowner would not face. These expenses include a $70K sprinkler system, an $18K security system, a wheelchair lift, and other safety features that are mandated by state law and insurance requirements. The house needs a new heating and cooling system, insulation, and a complete interior renovation. The new windows and exterior siding have already been almost completely installed. It is important to remember that thanks to the generous support of area businesses, many of the building materials have been given to us at cost, and we have received many in-kind donations of labor. Were we to pay market value for the work being done on the building, the cost would have been much, much higher.
Many of the original interior features of the building have been sold to a historical salvage company in Portland. This included light fixtures, doors, some woodwork, windows, and cabinets, and tin paneling which covered almost all the walls and ceilings in the building.
If you're interested in purchasing these granite steps then please contact Lori Lewis 645-3945, or We would prefer to sell all of them together. Bids are now up to $625. That's the price to beat!
Bids close November 15, and we would like to have them moved by December 1, before snow season.
Work in progress! Check out the wonderful siding on the WMPM! Every donation matters!

The tin paneling was covered in lead paint, not usable in a commercial building for children, and the cost for removing the paint and refinishing the tin was astronomical. The sale of these historical items helped enormously with the expenses we encountered in the first year of our project.

Who is making the decisions about what happens? How are decisions made?

In the summer of 2013, Angela McLeod came up with the idea for a children's museum in this area. (Parents of small children well know that there are no facilities of this type in Western Maine.) She put out a questionnaire on Facebook, to gauge community interest, and invited people to consider joining the board. The response was overwhelmingly favorable, and a 13 member board of volunteers was formed in November 2013. The board is made up of individuals with a wide variety of skills: there is a physician, a lawyer, several financial analysts, a social worker, a mental health worker, teachers from pre-school through college, an iT expert, and others. Most board members are young adults who work full time and are raising young families. All of these people have volunteered many, many hours over the last three years to make this vision a reality. The board makes decisions through group discussion and consensus; subcommittees sometimes research topics of interest, which are then brought to the table for group discussion. Community members are welcome to contribute their ideas. 

Where does the money come from? Why is it taking such a long time to get enough money to open?

Our overall budget is $700,000: $500K for building reconstruction and $200K to build the exhibits. These numbers were arrived at through long discussions and research during the planning stage in early spring 2014. Fundraising began in earnest in June 2014, and our grant writing and fundraising teams have been working hard since then. The grant writers create an average of 2 grants per month; of these, we have about a 20-25% rate of return, meaning, that for every 10 grants we submit, we may get funding from two. It's a very competitive world for grant writing, and it's especially difficult to secure grant money for capital funding for an emerging organization such as ours. Once the museum is operational, we are much more likely to receive more funding through grants. 
We have done direct mailings for fundraising help to individuals and businesses in the Wilton-Farmington area, and Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls. We raise some money through participating in town events and fairs. Most of the money donated to the museum has come from individuals who have seen our publicity, and share our belief in this project.

And one last question: How can I help the museum to open soon?

You can make a donation to our building fund; you can also contact a board member for skills and time you can share as a volunteer both now and when the museum opens. You can also support the museum, and also find some great holiday gifts, by buying WMPM items at several upcoming fall craft fairs (October 29, VFW craft fair in Jay; November 5, Spruce Mountain High School and UMF craft fairs; November 19 Mt Blue High School craft fair).
For sale! Stately granite steps that were formerly at the front entrance of the museum. Sadly, the granite isn't precise enough to meet ADA/commercial building requirements so we're offering them up to the highest bidder. There are four steps--each is 7 feet and 1 inch long, depth of 12 inches, and height is about 7 inches. There are also two other support pieces of granite that the steps sit on which can be seen in the pictures. You would have to move these without our assistance and they are HEAVY. They can be seen outside the museum anytime from now until they're sold.
On Saturday, October 22,  the Wilton Group sponsored their annual Scarecrow Festival, with food, a costume parade, pumpkin decorating, and pumpkin car racing.  As part of the events, friends of Western Maine Play Museum participated in the annual Polar Plunge "Freezin' for a Reason" sponsored by Western Maine Community Action.
The WMPM group raised the most money of any of the teams, and raised over $750 for the museum.  A fun event, for a great cause!

Check out the before and after pics from the plunge! Brrrr!
Thank you for all of your support!
Western Maine Play Museum is delighted to announce that they were recently awarded a $5000 grant from Skowhegan Savings Bank. 

With this recent donation, only about $45K remains to close the gap towards their $500K building renovation goal.

WMPM greatly appreciates this community support.
Copyright © 2016 Western Maine Play Museum, All rights reserved. 
Edited by Samantha Taylor, Upward Bound
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PO Box 1161
Wilton, ME 04294
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