With no buyers, preschoolers' museum closes

Charlotte At Play, the area's only museum targeting preschool-age children exclusively, has closed, citing financial difficulties.

The museum on McMullen Creek Parkway in south Charlotte had its last day Friday. Since opening in May 2006, more than 100,000 children had played in its fairy tale castle, mock grocery store, construction zone and other exhibits.

“We tried to find someone to buy it, and that fell through last week,” executive director Lisa Shporer said Wednesday as she sold the museum's last toys and tables.

“The family that owns it lost $725,000. They could no longer meet their financial obligations.”

She declined to name the owners of the for-profit museum.

About 300 families had museum memberships, which cost $150 a year. Discovery Place and the Nature Museum have agreed to honor the memberships through December, Shporer said. Members can call 704-348-1971 for more information.

She said the owners would also like to reimburse members, if possible, but first need to pay creditors. Members can e-mail requests to char lotte at play@gmail.com.

Jeremy Gamba was bringing his 2 1/2 year old daughter, Olivia, to the museum on Wednesday when he saw the closed sign.

“It's disappointing,” he said. “I wanted to bring her somewhere fun to play. It looks like we're going to Chuck E. Cheese.”