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    “Paucity of Recreational Facilities for Indian Children Has Triggered the SCM Seed”

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    Stellar group of companies, a real estate developer, has launched stellar children’s museum, first edu-recreational museum, at the , gurgaon. anjana menon, creative director of the museum, talks about the rationale behind creating children’s museum in india and their future plans
    Please take us through the journey of Stellar Children’s Museum (SCM).
    The concept came from having seen children’s museum in the US, where we lived. We believe that handson learning through unstructured play in areas that are designed for children is highly beneficial for early learners. Since there was no such concept in India – which triggered the seed of SCM – we had to reach out to international experts and came upon Redbox Workshop, a leading design, concept, fabrication and operational team of experts who specialise in children’s museums and have managed projects across interactive and immersive children’s environments such as Chicago Children’s Museum, , Louisville Science Center, and Mid- Michigan Children’s Museum
    The designing of the museum for India took over six months. We entered into a concept design phase with Redbox where we provided inputs on what we believed would work best with Indian children and what they were able to suggest from their experience. It took another six months to fabricate the various exhibits and get the space at Ambience Mall ready for installation. The museum opened to public on the Children’s Day (i.e. 14th Nov) last year.
     From where did you get inspire to open such unique concept?
    The concept came from my own experience during my stay overseas in the US, where most major cities have children’s museums. When we relocated back to India four years ago, we found a paucity of recreational facilities for children other than parks and the Zoo, which are weather dependent and provide only restricted hours of access during summer and monsoon, or play areas in shopping malls which typically focus on video games and/or swings and slides and have no educational value.
    A few facilities that provide educational entertainment are the National Science Centre, National Rail Museum, and Dolls Museum, but they lack interactivity. Parents are therefore engaging children at cinemas, food courts, and a few amusement parks which do not have elements of learning or education.
    As part of the Stellar Group, we saw an opportunity in fi lling this void and have built India’s first edu-recreational museum that will provide an innovative learning experience to children.
    What kind of learning is being provided here?
    At SCM, we engage children and families in exciting experiences that instil an appreciation of our environment, develop fundamental skills, and ignite the thirst for learning. We believe in the intrinsic value of play and provide opportunities for experiential learning and multi-sensory, object-based exploration. Through our educational play-based exhibits and programme, we focus on key developments areas such as gross and fi ne motor skills, sensory awareness, social and emotional learning, problem solving, and language and literacy.
    Our educational focus is built on the theories about open-ended opportunities for play and its potential to support and enhance a child’s ability to learn and solve problems. We believe that children learn through active experiences and moments of shared discovery in their environment and that during play, children are able to think in more complex and abstract ways.
     Who is your target audience? 
    The target audience is SEC A and B parents with children in the age group of 2-10 years.
    What is the entrance fee? Does it vary between weekdays and weekends?
    SCM is designed as a 1-2 hour experience for kids. The general admission fee is Rs 500 per child and Rs 200 per accompanying adult.The admission fees are the same on all days of the week. The annual membership starts at Rs 11,000 for a family with one child which gives unlimited entry to the museum and exclusive “membersonly” hours on Saturday from 10:00 AM to noon.
    How many footfalls are you getting per month on an average? What is the average bill size?
    We are still at an early stage, but started attracting about 5,000 footfall per month and we hope that it increases especially with the start of summer holidays. The average bill size is Rs 1,200.
    What are the opening and closing timings?
    The museum is open throughout the week from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We have Members-only hours every Saturday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
    What is the USP of SCM? 
    The museum is packed with 10,000 sq.ft. of interactive exhibits and play areas. There are seven main zones of interactive learning – Create it!, Invent it!, Build it!, Discover it!, Live it!, Explore it!, and Splash it! – to engage children in arts and crafts, science and experiments, design and construction, geography and culture, water fun, pretend play and social skills, and adventure and investigation. There’s also a theatre that hosts multiple activities during the course of the day and special events every week.
    Why did you choose Ambience mall to open your museum? 
    During our search for space, we realised that we need a place which could provide all amenities including parking and security – which are two big concerns. Further, we found that Gurgaon has a very high density of working professionals who are also young parents. That’s how we zeroed in on the Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. It provided us with the area we were looking for, excellent footfalls, and is already seen as an entertainment destination in Gurgaon. Given its proximity to Delhi, it also caters to the South Delhi population.
    How do you market your stores to make customers keep coming back?
    In order to drive the footfalls, we have creative, highly visible sponsorship opportunities for feature exhibits, special programmes and community events. We are also partnering with schools and community organisations to create educational programmes, provide educator-children or parent-children learning opportunities that impact children in their early years. We also have travelling exhibits to encourage repeat visits as well as reputed organisations to conduct workshops and corporate events. Besides, we offer opportunities for hosting events such as birthday parties. Our creative museum is adaptable to accommodate meetings, conferences, lectures, staff appreciations, focus groups, fundraisers, team building exercises and family reunions.
    What are your expansion plans?

    Over the next five years, the Stellar Group is planning to expand across the country with a diverse set of activities that promotes learning across many disciplines – from reading and math skills to architectural ideas and community living.

    Since we expect to drive heavy footfalls, especially during school holidays, we need sufficient parking wherever we open up.