Children's Museum opening draws public praise, support

After months of preparation, the McKenna Health System finally opened the doors to its new $11 million children's museum, and the public was impressed.

More than 500 turned out on Saturday to swim under the Comal River, hike through the Hill Country Campgrounds and wander through Town Square.

"It is a world-class museum with a hometown feel," said Jennifer Malatek, McKenna's Chief Development Officer. "We want families to share meaningful learning experiences so we integrated Hill Country themes that enable children to explore not only the world beyond their horizons, but also the one in their own backyard. In addition to the early childhood development emphasis, we built in fun and educational features that also support McKenna's community healthcare outreach and education programs."

The museum provides an atmosphere for children to learn, play and experience local history hands-on. Adults are not admitted without a child, and likewise children need an adult to experience the many exhibits that await.

Coinciding with the opening of the museum was a grand gala event and fundraiser used to help defray the costs of building the 18,000-square-foot facility. The gala was held in the McKenna Events Center adjacent to the museum.

McKenna officials estimated that more than 300 area residents contributed to the museum, which raised more than $8 million toward the cost of the facility.

"It's an incredible feat for this community," said McKenna CEO Tim Brierty.

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