Derry children’s museum to close

After 12 years, the Children’s Metamorphosis museum in Derry will close its doors on Aug. 31, due to what the museum cites as declining corporate donations and rising debt.

Founded in 1991, the nonprofit children’s museum, known as the Met, moved from its original location in North Londonderry to downtown Derry in 2002.

While membership and attendance — as much as 30,000 annually — rose at the new location, the Met was fighting a battle on at least three fronts: fair but significant lease payments; payments for a bank loan on renovation costs; and decreasing corporate sponsorship.

As a result, Met’s officials said in a press release, the museum has fallen significantly behind in paying its monthly lease fee.

After multiple grace periods and extended negotiations since July 2006, the Met’s landlord, Depot Square Holdings LLC, began the legal eviction process earlier this week, said museum officials.

“We hate to disappoint the thousands of kids who enjoy the Met, and we’ll miss our role as a promising tenant in downtown Derry,” said Tracy LaPlante, executive director of the museum. “But Depot Square Holdings has been more than fair. Short of some miraculous new source of funding or some other sudden solution, we really see no choice but to close the Met for good.”

The Met said it cannot refund annual membership fees, but will instead offer free upgrades to membership in the Association for Children’s Museums, giving members free access to hundreds of sites around the country.

Families and groups with function and program reservations already booked after Aug. 31 will receive a refund.

The Met is yet another casualty in the financial struggle facing many of New Hampshire’s arts groups.

With declines in corporate giving, a number of New Hampshire cultural organizations — including the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra and Opera New Hampshire — have faced drastic reductions in service or have cancelled programming outright. — CINDY KIBBE

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