Missoula Children's Museum to move after smoke concerns - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula Children's Museum to move after smoke concerns

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MISSOULA - The Missoula Children's Museum which closed their doors in December because of the possible danger of pollutants in the air believes they have grounds to break their lease agreement.

The children's museum now sits empty and on Sunday stopped paying rent on a lease agreement which doesn’t expire until July of 2020 -- more than two years away.

The nonprofit is now looking forward to a new location next to Spectrum on Toole Avenue after 15 years of operating on West Front Street. But the decision to move has not come easily.

Museum patrons began sending complaints of tobacco smell to the Missoula-County Health Department months ago which led to the Health Board filing a lawsuit against the Fool’s End Cigar Club, located directly below the museum.

“How in 2018 [is it] acceptable for a cigar club to be a part of a building with multiple businesses and clearly has a compromised infrastructure that’s allowing tobacco flow escapes me," museum director Nick Roberts said.

What was supposed to be their busiest months of the year instead brought a closed operation, suspension of critical revenue and a lack of resources for families that use this facility not only for fun but for therapeutic value.

Roberts said it wasn’t just the building itself that was unusable after more than a year of prolonged tobacco exposure, he said inventory was compromised.

“We’ve sold some pieces, we’ve given away some pieces and we’ve had to re-purpose through partner organizations…ultimately it’s been a big liquidation process and a sad one to lose so much inventory for this particular reason," Roberts said.

"Not to say some of it wasn’t tired and needed rotation anyway.. which was the case but to have it be offloaded for tobacco exposure is pretty inconceivable.," he added.

Roberts said its important landlords are aware and supportive of their tenants and their quality of facility and experience the public is being invited into

The building now sits empty and plans are in place for the museum to move into the Toole Crossing Building next to Spectrum Discovery. Roberts is excited for the future and he hopes the museum will continue to serve the community in such a big way.  

“I think what could get lost in such a dramatic transition is what we’re going through is the fact that we’ve had tens of thousands of people that have been through these doors," Roberts said.

"We’re an organization that averages over 20,000 visits a year. This has been a place to grow as a family, to play as kids to play as a family, to be a part of the community in an important way for 15 years is a big deal so we want to say thanks!" he continued.

Roberts added they are raising money for new infrastructure and are looking forward to possible collaboration with their new neighbors.

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