County, City of Rockville Mull Plan To Buy Office Building as New Home for KID Museum
A move could enable the Bethesda nonprofit to expand partnership with public school system
Middle schoolers gather around laptops at the KID Museum during the Invent the Future Challenge.
Montgomery County and the City of Rockville are considering a proposal to buy a Rockville building that would become the KID Museum’s new home.
The museum since 2014 has been offering children integrated, hands-on creative and technical experiences from 7,500 square feet of leased space on the lower floor of the Davis Library in Bethesda. But the nonprofit has outgrown the space, KID Museum spokeswoman Emma Starr said. The museum is currently serving 55,000 people each year at the library, but would like to increase that total to 250,000, she said.
“Right now, we are excited about the proposed partnership,” Starr said, adding the county and Montgomery County Public Schools are supportive of the museum’s mission. “We like to say that we have a shared vision of what’s important in innovation, education and diversity. We share this vision of bringing impactful learning experiences to kids.”
The museum’s leaders have their eye on a 51,000-square-foot building near the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville as a permanent location for the nonprofit. With the funding proposal now on the table, the county would pay 60 percent of the estimated $9.85 million it will cost to relocate, and the City of Rockville would pick up the remaining 40 percent. The city and county would jointly own the building, according to the plan.
County Council President Hans Riemer said Tuesday the new building would allow the museum to add programing and grow its partnership with MCPS.
“It’s the next big step for this whole initiative to create the workforce of the future and ... to really change how we engage with young people and students around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and creativity and technology and innovation,” Riemer said.
Last year, MCPS and the museum partnered for the Invent the Future Challenge, which gave hundreds of public middle school students a chance to learn about computer coding, engineering, math and fabrication.
During the challenge’s kickoff in December, MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said the school system’s work with the museum exemplified the type of community partnerships educators must develop.
Starr said as is, the KID Museum doesn’t have the space to realize its vision for working with MCPS, but a new facility would enable the nonprofit to explore the partnership.
County Council members are now considering the proposed funding arrangement as part of ongoing discussions about funding for capital projects over the next six years. A council committee is set to review the plan for a joint-purchase with the City of Rockville during an April 30 meeting. The Rockville mayor and council are holding a public hearing on the proposal the same day, according to a city spokeswoman.
The four-story Rockville building in question is in good condition, but its owners have struggled to keep tenants since a federal agency terminated its lease several years ago, according to a county project description. If the purchase goes through, the KID Museum would have to remove office partitions, build additional bathrooms and fit out the interior to meet the nonprofit’s needs, according to the county report. The museum would pay for these improvements through private and public contributions.
Because the purchase arrangement hasn’t been finalized by the city or county, Starr said the museum doesn’t want to reveal the building’s exact location.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at email@example.com.