Finley group gives county museum grant of $1 million
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The Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation endowed the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County with a $1 million capital campaign grant for the museum’s Science and Imagination Gallery.

The grant brings the total raised toward the campaign to approximately $7.1 million, a little more than 85 percent of the total capital campaign goal.

“This is a great day for the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County,” said Collette Michaud, CEO and founder of CMOSC. “It’s a huge step forward for the capital campaign and gets us closer to opening an excellent educational institution for the North Bay.”

The permanent museum, under construction on land adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Museum on Steele Lane in Santa Rosa, will be the permanent home of CMOSC, which started in 2005 as a mobile “Museum-On-The-Go.”

The permanent museum will open in late summer 2014.

“The mission of the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is to inspire creativity and encourage young people to explore the world through the arts and sciences,” said Norma J. Person, president of the Finley Foundation. 

“We hope this gift will go a long way toward ensuring that.”  

The Foundation, under the leadership of Evert B. Person, funded many projects to benefit children such as Finley Community Center and others. The capital campaign, co-chaired by Gordon Dow, formerly of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, seeks to raise a total of $8.3 million from foundations, corporations and individuals interested in promoting the mission of CMOSC and ensuring that the museum is a world-class institution accessible to all North Bay residents.

“Generous support from individuals, businesses and foundations are all important components in realizing this regional treasure,” Dow said. “The decision by the Finley Foundation to grant $1 million is tremendous. We are immensely grateful for their generous support and are excited about the road ahead.”

The 3,000 square foot multi-level Science and Imagination Gallery will offer extensive opportunities for imaginative play and exploration of scientific concepts through hands-on learning. Exhibits inside the gallery will include a kid-sized grocery store, a science and health laboratory, a demonstration beehive, a train station with trains encircling the gallery, a giant robot, and many science-based activities.

In addition to the Science and Imagination Gallery funded by the grant from the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation, the museum campus will include a toddler interactive play space, an outdoor education garden, Ella’s Art Studio and the Dow Event Center.

“Sonoma County businesses succeed because of the curious and creative minds of their employees,” said Mark Dolan, president of the CMOSC board of directors. “The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County will inspire that same curiosity and creativity in our children, helping to make a better future for the North Bay.”

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