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$50M and counting – Kids’ museum eyes drive

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By Todd Cohen    

RALEIGH, N.C. — After raising nearly $50 million, the new Exploris children’s museum in downtown Raleigh is gearing up to increase its annual fundraising and launch a new capital campaign.

Annual fundraising, totaling about $500,000, could grow to $750,000 when the museum’s new IMAX theater complex opens in November 2001, says Anne Bryan, Exploris’ president.

And in two to three months, she says, the museum will begin the “quiet” phase of a capital campaign that could total $8 million to $10 million.

Campaign proceeds will pay for programs and exhibits for the new theater complex and a new endowment.

“We’ve spent this year settling down, getting a sense of what it’s like to run the place,” Bryan says. “Now that we’re feeling comfortable with what we’re offering, we’re ready to move to the next level.”

Funding so far includes $16.5 million from Raleigh and Wake County from a tax on hotels and prepared food, $7.2 million from the state and $14.3 million raised privately – all to buy land and build the museum.

Raleigh and Wake County contributed another $11.9 million from the tax on hotels and prepared food to build the new theater complex.

Exploris, which opened Oct. 9, 1999, also generates revenue from admission fees. In the nine months through June 30, paid attendance totaled 120,000 visitors – roughly what museum officials had expected.

Exploris also operates a charter middle school with 168 students. Excluding the school, which is financed by the state and county, the museum has an annual budget of roughly $3.5 million.

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