The Children’s Museum in West Hartford has been in its current location since 1958, but it began in Hartford decades before and could soon be returning to its original roots.
At the museum Wednesday, families were exploring. From its iconic whale named Conny on the front lawn to the live animals inside, there is plenty to see.
“The kids love it,” said Allana Fuss, of Andover, visiting with her three young children. “Kids love seeing all the animals.”
The animals, though, and everything else inside the museum could soon be moving from its West Hartford location. Property owner, Kingswood Oxford School, listed the property for sale in January. The museum says they are not being forced out and have been aware of this possibility for years.
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“The time has come for them to move it forward so we are working with them so that we can find a new home,” said Executive Director, Michael Werle.
Werle explain the search could lead them back to Hartford, the city where the museum originated in 1927.
“We looked at it and we’re sort of returning to our roots. Going back down near Elizabeth Park would be ideal for us,” said Werle.
Werle says there are three or four options. Among them, the former Hartford College for Woman now owned by the University of Hartford. Backing the move to this location is the West End Civic Association (WECA).
“We think it will really benefit the neighborhood. Our kids. North End kids. There’s quite a few schools around that location and it just seems ideal,” said WECA President, Suzann Beckett.
To rally support, the WECA has started a petition which now has over 700 signatures.
Additional factors in the move include a preschool that is part of the Children’s Museum. Werle says this will need to be part of the relocation.
And of course, there’s the whale.
Conny, short for Connecticut, is the unofficial and giant mascot of the Children’s Museum.
“It’s such a great thing to see when you drive by, it just puts a smile on your face,” said Noelle Bleski, of Litchfield, who was visiting with her children on Wednesday.
The exact scale sperm whale replica is so big, museum visitors can even climb inside.
“They love climbing up. They love seeing it when we drive-by. They got really excited to come inside because they saw the whale out front,” said Fuss.
Conny is 60 feet long and constructed of concrete and steel. A difficult object to move. So, people want to know, is Conny moving too?
“That will be a challenge, but it will be sort of a celebratory thing when and if it happens,” said Werle
The whale has been part of the museum since 1976. Wherever the museum ends up, people want Conny there.
“Give him a chance. Save the whale,” said Bleski. “He looks like he’s not going to bother anybody. He’s just a big whale.”
Understanding that sentiment, Werle says the move includes one non-negotiable factor.
“We have no choice. Conny is going with us and we have to find her a home,” he said.