Residents Say a Bittersweet Goodbye to Old Children's Museum

By: Janelle Lilley Email
By: Janelle Lilley Email

Saturday was the final day for the Harrisonburg Children's Museum at its Main Street location of the last eight years.

As always, Saturday was all fun and games at the museum, though it was a day of mixed emotions for Executive Director Lisa Shull.

"This week in particular, we've had a lot of families coming back, bringing their children, wanting to take a few more photos," says Shull

Mom of two Christina von Rotz says she's sad to say goodbye to the old place, but understands the museum's need to change and grow, just like her kids have changed in the three years she has been taking them to see the exhibits.

"As they're growing they get new interests, and they see bigger kids doing things that they want to try," says van Rotz.

As a nine-year-old, Laurianna Erb has been coming to the museum for all but one year of her life. Erb's interests have changed along with the museum, but she still has vivid memories of her early-childhood favorite exhibits.

"[They used to have] the frame of a house, and you got to do things with it, and they had a fake sink in it and stuff, and you could put flooring in," recalls Erb.

Now Erb, a weekly museum visitor, enjoys expressing her creativity in the craft area the best.

In the last eight years, Shull has accumulated some favorite memories of her own, mostly of the hard work just trying to get the museum ready to open for the first time.

"Once when we had been working all day, we were all tired of and felt like we couldn't clean anymore (we still had all the bathrooms left to clean and they were filthy)...some man just walked in off the street, we didn't know him at all, and he said, 'I'm a professional cleaner.' He brought all his things and he said, 'I'm here to help you,'" remembers Shull.

As Sunday starts a new beginning in her life, Shull will create new memories of trying to get the new location ready to open, though, like the museum exhibits, she'll forever treasure the old memories.

"I'm going to look at each one of those exhibits and each one of those walls, and I'm going to have a memory attached to a person or someone who's just made a difference in this community," says Shull.

The museum expects to be closed between six and eight weeks before open the doors to its new, permanent facility on South Main Street.


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