- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

BEULAH, Mich. (AP) - A former bowling alley in downtown Beulah will soon become a children’s museum.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/2aOp2BV ) reports that Kimmee Wenkel thought of the idea for an interactive children’s learning center in Benzie County after she took her four children to the Imagination Station in Toledo, Ohio.

Wenkel researched the project by visiting children’s museums in Traverse City, Marquette, Lansing and elsewhere.

She and her mother quit their jobs to work full time to start COGnition, the name of the museum. The pair hopes to open the first wing of the center in October.

“We’re going all in,” said Laura Stanwick, Wenkel’s mother. “It’s a leap of faith. Ever since we took the leap it’s been boom, boom, boom. It’s like an avalanche.”

The women are talking with Venture North Funding, the Northsky Nonprofit Network and the Alliance for Economic Success to explore funding and planning ideas.

The property has 10,000 square feet of floor space.

The roof over part of the building collapsed in February 2014, and the building’s owners left the collapsed section as an open-air courtyard. The women plan to use the courtyard as both an exhibit space and an outdoor seating area.

Sections of wood alley are stacked up in a big room that used to hold the bowling lanes. Wenkel hopes to incorporate some of the wood into the finished space and exhibit a pin-setting machine still in the building to retain the space’s history.

“We want everything to be playful and informational,” Wenkel said.

Wenkel said she hopes to target two audiences: Kids ages 1 through 14 and teenagers ages 15 to 17. She plans to offer volunteer opportunities at the museum for older teens.

“Our goal is that at each exhibit, there will be different levels for different age groups,” Wenkel said.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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