MARIETTA — Kristi Storey, the executive director of The Cobb County Youth Museum, has her eyes on the future.

As the museum wraps up its 49th school year of operation this month, Storey and other museum officials have an estimated $1.4 million expansion on their mind, aimed at providing smoother operations to the students who come through to learn about American history.

“We are a participatory museum — we do not have just static exhibits,” said Storey, adding that today, the museum covers fourth-grade social studies to school tours and homeschool groups, with its exhibit, “America’s Pathways to Independence” focusing on the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War.

“We have 56 parts — kids come out with their classrooms, usually two classes at a time, and they re-enact events throughout history,” Storey said. “We start with Colonial Boston. Room one is Boston, they come in and dress up and dress as the Sons and Daughters of Liberty and re-enact the Boston Massacre, we have a teacher that comes in and starts the war. We have someone who pretends to be Paul Revere and let the citizens know that the Redcoats are coming. Some of the students will get up there and dress up as Indians and throw tea into the Boston Harbor — we have a ship built into room one.”

Yes, the museum has a ship inside. Another room serves as a replica of Independence Hall and centers on the writers of the Declaration of Independence.

But the facility, built in 1970 on 10 acres of land adjacent to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, is somewhat lacking in restrooms, Storey said, which sparked the desire for renovations and expansions. At just over 3,200 square feet, the plans call for the addition of nearly 5,400 square feet of new construction, with the existing square footage to be renovated.

“In that (original) building, we have a staff restroom, which is a room with just a toilet and a sink, and then we have a restroom that the students use, and it’s the same thing. So what started was that we have close to 15,000 students that come through, students and teachers, and they all use this one restroom. One of the biggest complaints we have, especially with homeschool groups that are driving from like Gwinnett County, is the facility having one restroom.”

Other additions sought under the project: a multipurpose room, puppet show platform and theater, additional exhibit space and storage, and a lobby, which the existing facility does not have.

Storey said the museum will soon begin grassroots fundraising to obtain the $1.4 million needed for the museum’s vision.

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin served on the museum’s board in the 1970s and 1980s and said the museum serves as a beneficial amenity to both the Marietta and Cobb school systems even today.

“It was about as creative as you could be,” Tumlin said. “It was started by the Junior League. It’s always been small staffed and having a lot of volunteers. And they presented history in a creative way. They were having interactive plays before everyone else did. They’d have something on (Georgia’s founder James) Oglethorpe, have three or four scenes, and they’d change them annually.”

Other programs, Tumlin recalls, focused on topics such as the Indian Territories and the Civil War.

“It’s been a tremendous asset for our community,” Tumlin said, “especially for a good away-from-school experience for children.”

For more information on the Cobb County Youth Museum, visit theyouthmuseum.org.

Follow Jon Gargis on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JonGargis.

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