In this new year, children and their families have the chance to enjoy new additions at the expERIEnce Children's Museum.

Hands on play, near water, on the ground, or in front of a big screen.

"The exhibits went from 30 to gosh, almost over 200," said Executive Director, Ainslie Brosig. 

In her more than 10 years as executive director of the expERIEnce Children's Museum, Ainslie Brosig has helped spearhead a massive museum enhancement.

Ground was broken in 2022 for phase one. It opened about a year later. Quite a different entrance from the former museum, in the same area

"It served us well for over 25 years, but it was never meant to be a museum," said Brosig. "It was a garage and before that, a livery."

More than $18 million has been raised to date for the exhibits and other amenities thanks to state and local funding including generous area contributors.

The upper level of the museum is inspired by all thing Erie, like the diner where you can order menu items and have them delivered. 

Parents like Jason Borst come so often, his young family are members.

"It's really nice. There's a bunch of different things for them to explore, you can spend a whole day here," said Borst. 

And with this expansion, the museum is now a certified science center.

"So with your membership you get half off or a significant discount at any children's museum or science center," said Brosig. 

All exhibits are new, yet for some, carry nostalgia

"They've expanded the capabilities from even when I was a kid with the bubble machine still here so its really great to see some of that new stuff and old stuff too," said Molly Danch, museum goer. 

Molly Danch makes new memories with her young daughter Maggie.

But there's more to come. Erie News Now was taken inside the area where local crews have been hard at work creating everything from an aviation station, and idea lab to a sanitizing room. Outdoor play will also be brought back.

"We knew we were busting at the seems in the other space, so this space allows us to see kids through 5th grade," said Brosig. "Before we only saw kids through 1st grade."

But no matter the age, play is important.

The plan is to have all areas of the museum fully open by July. In the meantime, there's also 21 and over adult play events. Brosig says it's something other children's museums and science center are doing around the nation.