Explore & More today announced two major gifts totaling more than $1 million in contributions to the museum's recently launched capital campaign for its new facility, which is opening at Canalside in 2016.
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. has donated $550,000 to the project. That contribution puts the Wegmans name on the "From Farm to Fork" educational play zone, as well as the galley cooking area.
In addition, The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation has donated $500,000 to support the new museum's rooftop garden.
"This partnership with Wegmans Food Markets fits our mission precisely, and we are so grateful for their financial support as well as their expert input for 'From Farm to Fork.' It is a major investment on behalf of the children and families of Buffalo and Western New York," said Explore & More Executive Director Barbara Leggett. The museum's capital campaign launched in December.
In a way that's engaging and fun, "From Farm to Fork" will use Buffalo's rich agricultural history to help children learn where food comes from. Children will have the chance to harvest on the farm, shop and sell at the produce market, and cook and create in the galley.
"When we heard about Explore & More's vision for this project, we knew it was a natural fit for us," said Mike Keating, Wegmans' senior vice president of the Buffalo division. "We are delighted to be part of a project that will mean so much to families in Buffalo, including our own employees and their children."
Separately, The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation will fund the rooftop garden. Looking out over the Buffalo Waterfront, Explore & More's rooftop garden will offer a variety of outdoor activities for families. It will be a lively and whimsical space, transformative of the urban landscape in which it stands. Visitors young and old will get inspiration from the unparalleled views, delight in the musical garden, and have fun in the interactive art stations.
"Support for innovative approaches to learning and helping families to eat healthy are two focus areas for our foundation," said Danny Wegman, president and chairman of the board of The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation. "This is an exciting project that will help to achieve both goals."
"We are thrilled that Wegmans Food Markets' has put forward this very generous donation toward the new Explore and More Children's Museum at Canalside," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "Buffalo's waterfront is becoming a major draw for families and residents of the city, as well as tourists and visitors to Western New York, and the new museum will be yet another attraction for the neighborhood. I applaud Wegmans Food Markets' for their generosity and commitment to making New York's communities a better place for our residents."
Celebrating 20 years in operation, Explore & More Children's Museum has hands-on, interactive exhibits and programs that inspire creativity, curiosity and imagination. The museum has actively been planning for its expansion and move from the current East Aurora site to Buffalo's waterfront. Explore & More is set to open a 40,000-square-foot museum at Canalside in 2016. Buffalo stories will connect interactive exhibits and programs to Canalside, offering unique, place-based play experiences for the whole family.
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. is an 83-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. Wegmans has been named one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune magazine for 17 consecutive years. In 2014, Wegmans ranked No. 12 on the list.
The Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, a charity headquartered in Rochester, was created by Robert Wegman in 1991 and is funded by assets from his estate. The foundation's areas of focus are health care, education, workforce development and United Way. The foundation does not accept grant applications.