Adventure House of You, or AHOY, is set to be Louisville’s first children’s museum with a physical location.
After a $500,000 donation from the James Graham Brown Foundation, officials with the Portland Museum, which is behind the creation of AHOY, say they are closer to wrapping phase one of the project.
“This grant will enable us to move forward with construction and help encourage other donors to become part of building this experience inspired by and rooted in Louisville’s West End,” AHOY director Danny Seim said in a news release.
Project officials say the James Graham Brown Foundation’s donation has already led to more funding coming in.
“When one big domino falls, the rest start to follow,” Portland Museum director Katy Delahanty said. “We’ve had a lot of individual donations since then, and another one that we should recognize is the $50,000 grant from the Gheens Foundation.”
AHOY will be attached to the Portland Museum. Visitors will be able to travel through a tunnel filled with projected images before entering AHOY.
As the name suggests, AHOY will have a maritime theme honoring the history of Louisville and Portland as key shipping ports along the Ohio River.
The museum worked with Weber Group, which was founded by Portland residents Tom and Donny Weber, to produce concept art for the space.
A three-story house is set to be transformed to feature rooms with boat replicas, art made from flotsam and space highlighting the fossils found directly across the river at the Falls of the Ohio.
Many of the museum’s main ideas came from AHOY’s child-led steering committee, The Catfish Club.
“When you think about a children’s museum not being made by children, you could make anything you could imagine and they don’t want to play with, so why not let them be the voice of the museum?” Delahanty said.
Some of the ideas children have suggested include a huge slide, a playground, mannequins that reflect all races, and many forts.
The original idea for the museum came from Seim’s child, Fritz. Fritz asked Seim why they always had to travel outside their neighborhood to visit places.
Seim hopes this child-centered approach will help “trick” children into learning.
“If you can reach children when they’re young enough and impressionable enough and just kind of show them it doesn’t have always have to be learning with a capital ‘L’ or art with a capital ‘A,’” Seim said.
Both Delahanty and Seim aim to create a place where young Portland residents can learn about their neighborhood’s history and importance.
“When you can kind of make the kids the ambassadors of that and make them feel that they are important enough to be visited by whoever, its makes you feel like you don’t have to escape,” Seim said.
They hope this type of pride can spill over to the entire neighborhood and beyond.
“We realize change is necessary to continue to share Portland’s history and our people in a way that reaches contemporary audiences,” Delahanty said in a new release.
AHOY is set to open in early 2024.
Editor’s note: Katy Delahanty is on Louisville Public Media’s Community Advisory Board.
This story has been updated.
Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.