WASHINGTON (AP) — Elmo has no statue in Washington but he’s poised to strike his best museum pose: “Sesame Street” is teaming up to create exhibits that incorporate the popular TV characters into the future home of National Children’s Museum near the nation’s capital.
The New York-based nonprofit group behind “Sesame Street” announced a partnership Thursday with the museum, which will give Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch their first permanent home as characters at the $182.6 million future museum scheduled for a 2013 opening in Washington’s Maryland suburbs.
Plans call for an indoor river as part of an environmental exhibit, a children’s theater and a replica of the Oval Office at the White House.
“You mean Elmo can pretend to be the commander-in-chief?” Elmo said delightedly as the red, furry character joined a news conference on Capitol Hill with officials behind the museum and those of the nonprofit Sesame Workshop — as well as 22 first-graders. “Just think of it — President Elmo.”
The museum is being developed along the Potomac River at the National Harbor in Maryland, just south of the nation’s capital.
Museum President and CEO Kathy Dwyer Southern said the “Sesame Street” characters will serve as virtual guides to the museum for children who visit. They’ll also be included in a new Early Learners gallery and a planned international gallery.
“Oh! Elmo is going to be a tour guide?” Elmo said. “We’re walking, we’re walking …”
The “Sesame Street” group has created traveling exhibits before but never had a permanent museum home. The program now has a global reach to 140 countries, helping children learn the world over.
For 30 years, the Capitol Children’s Museum had a home on Capitol Hill. In 2003, Congress designated it to be a national museum and the existing location closed in 2004 in preparation for a new venture.
The new museum is being designed by architect Cesar Pelli, who has proposed a four-story museum with a glass atrium, wind turbine and rooftop garden. Groundbreaking is expected later this year.
“Sesame Street” won’t be part of the museum’s name, but its characters will be part of the draw. The museum had about 200,000 visitors annually at its last home and expects those numbers will at least triple.
Millions of dollars in private money must be raised to complete the project, along with some public funds. The state of Maryland has contributed $12 million and another $3 million is pending in the state budget. Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also pledged federal support Thursday.
Terms of the deal between the museum and the nonprofit Sesame Workshop deal were not disclosed.
The nonprofit draws its revenue from product licensing, the sale of its programs to PBS and others, and from government, corporate and foundation grants.
Gary Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop, described the museum partnership as a “philanthropic venture” that’s part of the group’s mission and “not really a money-making venture for ‘Sesame Street.”‘
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)