The West Hartford Children’s Museum has been in its current location since 1958, but it started in Hartford decades ago and may soon return to its original roots.
At the museum on 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 to see all the animals.”
The animals, however, and everything else inside the museum may soon be leaving its location in West Hartford. The owner, Kingswood Oxford School, listed the property for sale in January. The museum says they are not forced out and have been aware of this possibility for years.
“Now is the time for them to get things done so that we work with them so that we can find a new home,” said Managing Director Michael Werle.
Werle explains that the excavation could bring them back to Hartford, the city where the museum was born in 1927.
“We’ve looked at it and we’re kind of going back 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. The West End Civic Association (WECA) is supporting the move to this location.
“We think it will really benefit the neighborhood. Our children. Children of North End. There are quite a few schools around this place and it just seems ideal, ”said Suzann Beckett, President of WECA.
To rally support, WECA launched a petition that now has over 700 signatures.
Other factors in the move include a preschool that is part of the Children’s Museum. Werle says this will have to be part of the move.
And of course, there is the whale.
Conny, short for Connecticut, is the unofficial and giant mascot of the Children’s Museum.
“It’s a great thing to see when you walk past, it makes you smile,” said Noelle Bleski of Litchfield, who was visiting her children on Wednesday.
The exact scale replica of the sperm whale is so large that visitors to the museum can even climb inside.
“They love to climb. They love to see it when we drive by. They were very excited to come back because they saw the whale out front, ”Fuss said.
Conny is 60 feet long and is constructed of concrete and steel. A difficult object to move. So people want to know, is Conny moving too?
“It will be a challenge, but it will be kind of a celebration when and if it happens,” Werle said.
The whale has been in the museum since 1976. Everywhere the museum ends, people want Conny to be there.
“Give it a chance. Save the whale, ”Bleski said. “He doesn’t seem to bother anyone. It’s just a big whale.
Understanding this sentiment, Werle says the move includes a non-negotiable factor.
“We have no choice. Conny is coming with us and we have to find him a home,” he said.