The Zimmer Children’s Museum announced plans Tuesday to leave Museum Row in Los Angeles for Downtown Santa Monica. When it opens late 2018, the museum is expected to attract 250,000 visitors a year to the third floor of Santa Monica Place, according to a press release from Macerich, which owns the mall.

“We’re just delighted that the Zimmer found a place that will work in Santa Monica for their long-term vision,” said Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. CEO Kathleen Rawson. “They’re going to be here a long time.”

Rawson said leadership at Los Angeles’s only children’s museum was initially in talks to join the city-owned development called The Plaza at 4th and Arizona but needed to leave their current location faster than the private/public project is moving forward. They will move into the former market space on the northeast corner of Santa Monica Place and the current tenant, The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories, will move to a new location in the mall.

“Children’s museums are fabulous places for the community to take advantage of,” Rawson said. “This one in particular has a really important mandate that they are really trying to shape young minds into being part of the broader community.”

The Zimmer offers classes and public programs in arts, music and movement, cross-cultural exchange, school readiness, early childhood education and languages. The museum’s new location will feature a new, expanded experience and a curated museum shop, according to Macerich.

The museum will be neighbors with some of Santa Monica’s most expensive stores: Tiffany and Co., Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Barneys New York, among others.

“This innovative use of space at our high-performing, award-winning Santa Monica Place is part of how we are redefining what a sophisticated retail property brings to the community,” said Art Coppola, Chairman and CEO of Macerich.

The museum is contracting new designers and architects to draw up plans for the new space, which is double the size of the current museum on Wilshire Boulevard, promising to release renderings in the coming months. The Zimmer began as a 600 square foot play space inside the Westside Jewish Community Center more than a decade ago. It became an independent nonprofit organization in 2006, redefining its mission to serve all children in Los Angeles through on-site programs an its outreach program, youTHink.

“Partnering with Macerich is a step forward for our children’s museum as a cultural institution,” said the museum’s CEO Esther Netter.

About 50,000 people visit the Zimmer on Museum Row. YouThink reaches about 3,000 students in Los Angeles area public schools, providing art, leadership and community opportunities for middle and high school students.

Rawson says it will become an important anchor to the mall that balances shopping, The Pier and restaurants.

“It adds a richness to the overall variety of experiences downtown that I feel is very complimentary.”

Admission to the current location is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages two through 17. Grandparents visit for free on Tuesdays. A glance at this week’s calendar shows toddler classes in Farsi, French and Spanish, a ‘Sensational Splash!’ class for babies under 18 months and preschool prep. Membership costs $109 and allows unlimited admission for two adults and their children a year, plus discounts on classes and camps.





Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press