Founded in 1976, the Please Touch Museum became the first children’s museum in the United States that was designed for children ages seven and younger. In 2005, the Museum sought out a new home and chose the historic Memorial Hall, located in Fairmount Park. This National Historic Landmark was constructed in 1876 as an Art Gallery for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. After three years of restoration, the Museum opened its doors to children on October 18, 2008.
The new museum was renovated and retrofitted to accommodate space for exhibition/public spaces, administrative offices, support/storage spaces and ancillary spaces. It was designed with a chilled water system, heat system and a waterside economizer. The design incorporates a serpentine walkway and a rambling river inside the multilevel museum. The exhibits required not only power, but data capabilities with a flexible distribution/outlet plan.
When visitor’s enter the museum, they are greeted by a life-sized, 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty’s Arm and Torch. Bala’s structural team aided artist, Leo Sewell in the skeletal design that would help support hundreds of toys ranging from board games, license plates, to sporting equipment. The unique sculpture ties in a piece of history from Memorial Hall. The original Statue of Liberty Torch and Arm was an exhibit in the 1876 Centennial Exhibition at Memorial Hall and was used to fundraiser for the pedestal that now holds the statue in New York.