by Gary Axelbank
May 14, 2018
The Bronx stars were out on Broadway last Tuesday as the Bronx Children’s Museum held its second annual gala in the Edison Ballroom.
The event co-chair was TV’s Kerry Washington, who the tabloids said was resplendent in a metal-embellished minidress, but she was dead serious when she talked about what the Museum will mean for the Bronx.
Multi-talented actor Chazz Palminteri was honored and admitted that he does in fact carry a card in his pocket that says “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.”
Another honoree, Sesame Street legend Sonia Manzano related the impact of Sesame Street to the limitless possiblitites for the Museum. The host of the evening was a co-host of “the View” Sunny Hostin.
Desipte the glitterati, which also included a stellar jazz performance by renowned Bronx-born pianist and educator Dr. Valerie Capers, the real stars and winners of the evening were the hundreds of thousands of Bronx children who were mostly unseen on this festive night, but will be the ultimate recipients of the $465,000 raised by the 400 people in attendance for the Bronx Children’s Museum.
Almost a quarter of those proceeds came from an auction of some incredible items, like a meet-and-greet with Bronx superstar JLo in Las Vegas.
While the Bronx is technically the only borough without a Children’s Museum, it already has what Executive Director Carla Precht likes to call, “a museum without walls,” serving thousands of Bronx Children with programs.
Those efforts couldn’t happen without honroees Kerry Malawista and Alan Heilbron who several years ago gifted a redesigned former school bus to the Museum in loving memory of their daughter, Sarah, whose dream of bringing art to underserved city children is being realized by the Museum.
“We have made the streets of the Bronx our home through our outreach programs,” Precht said. “Now, as we grow from being a virtual museum with no physical space to one with a building, we expect to serve four times the number of people we already see. Our budget is about to double as we expand far beyond what we currently do.”
Hence the need for on-going fund-raising like last week’s gala that went hand-in-hand with the widepsread good feeling through the evening that was in the true Bronx community spirit of collaborative effort.
“Kids need a place to help them follow their dreams,” Palminteri said, “so every time you give money to a great cause like the Bronx Children’s Museum, you’re not just helping a child, you’re helping a universe. It’s a ripple effect.”
Construction of the Museum’s facility, which is just south of Yankee Stadium, is underway under the auspices of the NYC Departments of Design & Construction and Parks & Recreation through a public/private partnership. The renovation of 13,000 square feet of a NYC Parks-owned former powerhouse will provide children with interactive exhibits and multi-cultural programming. The Museum’s outreach programs will continue after the building’s opening.
To date, the Museum has secured $11 million in New York City funding and $4 million in bricks-and-mortar funding from the State Assembly. It has an interactive exhibit activity budget of $4 million. In total, the Museum has approximately 94% of the funds and in-kind support needed to open its doors. But approximately $1.75 million remains to be raised for exhibits, furniture fixtures and equipment, as well as an opening/reserve fund.
“I want the Bronx Children’s Museum to be part of a resurrection in the Bronx,” Washington said. “I want this Museum to be an emblem of who we really are. I want people to know that the people in the Bronx are smart, powerful, courageous and strong, and there is no limit to who we can be.”
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