New Children’s Museum eyes UConn’s West Hartford campus for relocation

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WEST HARTFORD – UConn continues its plans to move its West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford, but what will come of the school’s current property remains a mystery.

UConn plans to vacate the property in 2017, and currently the town of West Hartford is negotiating to purchase the property.

If and when they do that, the new Children’s Museum will have a proposal for them.

The museum has been looking to relocate for six years now from the space it leases on Trout Brook Drive, and it’s interested in relocating to the UConn property.

“Size wise and location wise it fits, and it’s very convenient for us because it’s less than a mile move,” said Executive Director Mike Werle. “So it has a lot of very attractive features and has enough open space that we tuck into it nicely.”

In this plan, the children’s museum would only rent one building on the property, and is proposing turning the rest of the vacant land and buildings into a “cultural campus.”

“People will have use of the property in a park-like sense, but they’ll also have cultural entities like us on that property, and paying a rental fee, so it will help maintain the property,” said Werle.

The museum presented its idea during a public meeting on Tuesday night, hoping to get public support for the plan.

The museum itself would increase its space by 20-25 percent if this proposal moves forward. The staff plans to move its exhibits, planetarium, animal sanctuary, preschool, and its famous “Conny the Whale” replica over to its new location. Museum staffers are also interested in increasing the amount of space for community events and meetings in its new location.