When the Glazer Children's Museum opens its doors to the public on Saturday at noon, visitors will be amazed at what they find. A priceless addition to the Bay area's cultural landscape, the museum features 175 exhibits over 53,000 square feet to delight children and their families.
On Thursday evening, a select group of visitors got a sneak peek at the museum's wonders, and one of the first things they saw was their own names, just inside the front door.
With its grand opening less than 48 hours away, the Glazer Children's Museum took time on Thursday for a Donor Celebration, thanking the many people, corporations and foundations who contributed to its creation. This wasn't exactly a black-tie event; instead, mirroring the bright colors and festive atmosphere of the museum itself, it was a party for all those who had a hand in making this fantastic dream a reality.
"What a dream to have a museum like this in our very own backyard," said Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation. "It's here we hope that children uncover their great secrets and talents and discover the great capabilities they have in their bodies right now. We hope that children discover who they can become here and also more about who they already are."
Approximately 300 visitors walked through the museum's front doors on Thursday evening and were immediately greeted with a wall display commemorating their donations, which ranged from $5,000 to $5,000,000. A saxophone player provided entertainment at the entrance and a band played on the third floor.
Early in the evening, the donors and their guests gathered for a brief program, where a handful of speakers discussed the museum's attractions and how they came to be. Among those on hand to thank the donors were Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, Bryan Glazer and Avie Glazer, as well as Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik, Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan and Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita.
"The board and everyone pulled together," said Mayor Iorio. "They raised the money and they designed something that is beautiful and will stand the test of time. This is a great addition to our city. I really want to thank the Glazer Family for stepping up and making a contribution that made this possible."
Before long, the guests were freed to roam the spacious museum, and be some of the first Bay area citizens to interact with its many exhibits. They had hours to explore the 12 distinctly different sections of the museum, but it's not likely anyone experienced everything it had to offer.
"The community has never seen anything quite like this," said Bryan Glazer. "It's a very large children's museum with over 150 different hands-on things to do. Children are going to come here and spend a day here and then not even see a portion of it and want to come back and spend more time here."
Not only are the museum's exhibits hands-on, they're minds-on. The mission of the Glazer Children's Museum is to create learning environments where children play, discover and connect to the world around them to develop as lifelong learners and leaders. A combination of permanent and traveling exhibits, comprehensive year round programs and special events will provide children, parents, caregivers and teachers a rich and ever-changing environment for playful learning.
"Any mother and family knows that we are always looking for things to do and we have a world-class museum here," said Glazer Kassewitz. "What a great place to take your family. We have a climbing gym and I know that the kids are just going to go crazy over that. And we have a water feature that is just gorgeous with all kinds of activities for the children to do – boats, windmills and all kinds of fun stuff."
The Glazer family – for whom the idea of a children's museum in Tampa was a natural fit – tops the donation list but so many caring individuals and corporations in the Bay area helped it become a reality. On Thursday night, those donors gathered to celebrate what they had accomplished and to put their hands on the final result of a long but worthwhile process.
"It's been a couple year process from the time that we were able to build the museum, to the shovel in the ground and now we are here opening this for all the children in the area to enjoy it," said Bryan Glazer. "We're thrilled. Our entire family is so thrilled, with the reality of opening this weekend, we just can't be any more excited."