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GFF's Donation Puts Children's Museum on Fast Track

A new state-of-the-art children’s museum is on the way for the Bay area thanks in large part to a $5 million donation from the Glazer Family Foundation, it was announced Monday

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The Glazer Family Foundation's donation will help bring the finest children's museum in the nation to downtown Tampa

A new state-of-the-art children's museum is on the way for the Bay area thanks in large part to a $5 million donation from the Glazer Family Foundation, it was announced Monday

It's the largest donation in the history of the Glazer Family Foundation, and it's one that took all of about two minutes to gain approval.

At a press conference held at One Buccaneer Place on Monday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Executive Vice President Edward Glazer announced that the Foundation has donated $5 million toward the construction of a new children's museum in Tampa. He was joined at the press conference by his wife, Shari, his brother Bryan and Bryan's fiancee Erica Dennison, and his sister Darcie Glazer-Kassewitz.

In recognition of the Glazers' donation, the new museum will be named the Glazer Children's Museum, said Heidi Shimberg, the museum's chairman of the board.

Edward Glazer said that the Glazer family is utterly thrilled to be involved in the ambitious project. Both Shimberg and Glazer expect the Tampa museum to be the finest of its kind in the nation.

"When we started the Glazer Family Foundation 10 years ago it was started to benefit the youth," Glazer said. "When my brother, Bryan, called me about a month ago and said there's this opportunity, I think it took us about two minutes to talk to everyone in the family and get onboard. We were so excited.

"This children's museum is going to be first class. It's going to be the best in the country, and we are so excited to be a part of it."

The Glazers' donation will help enable the construction of the 50,000-square-ft. museum, which will feature more than 175 exhibits, five classrooms, multi-purpose spaces, a terrace and a family resource center. The hands-on exhibits, designed for children of all ages, will explore science, social studies and art while promoting literacy and basic mathematics.

"With this extraordinary gift, the Glazer family has made it possible for this museum to really take root and to grow," said Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

"This gift truly seeds the campaign so we can open the doors to better enrich the lives of children and family in our community."

Shimberg said she knew as soon as the foundation became involved that the museum project struck a chord with the Glazer family.

"When you sit at the board table as a group of volunteers and you come up with a very courageous decision to decide to build a museum from the ground up, there are a couple of momentous days that you dream of – and today is one of those momentous days," Shimberg said. "Today is the day that I get to stand before you and let you know that there is someone else out in the community who believes in this cause as deeply as we do, and that is the Glazer Family Foundation."

The Glazer Children's Museum is expected to draw 200,000 visitors each year and positively impact the economic development of the downtown area. Children's museums are the fastest growing cultural institutions in the country, with more than 25 million annual visitors. Throughout the last decade, more than 180 children's museums have opened across the states.

Underscoring the importance of these museums, Glazer said the presence of a children's museum in Tampa is vital not only to the youth of the city but also to those who visit Tampa – something he and his family understand from first-hand experience.

"When we travel around the country, the first thing we do is we look and see what we can do with [our] children," Glazer said. "The first thing we do is see if there is a children's museum wherever we're going.

"Sometimes you just need a wonderful place to take the kids, and this is what a children's museum is all about. It's a place for kids to grow, to learn. And as they get older, it's not a museum that stays stagnant. There are so many different things for different aged children, and that's what makes it so wonderful."

The Glazer Children's Museum is scheduled to open in Fall 2009 and will be located along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa near the new Tampa Museum of Art and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center – an area Iorio believes to be integral of the city's future.

"We made a commitment as a city to give the land to the children's museum right there at Curtis Hickson Park," Iorio said. "In February of next year we will be breaking ground on a new Curtis Hickson Park, investing 15 million dollars in it so it will become Tampa's event-driven park. And of course there will be a groundbreaking for the new Tampa Museum of Art.

"But right there at Ashley and the new Curtis Hickson Park, the first thing people will see will be the new children's museum, and I think that the children's museum is going to be the main attraction because families from all over will be bring their children there. And what a great and grand experience they will have."

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