Please Touch Museum out of bankruptcy

In this May 7

In this May 7

The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia emerged from bankruptcy court Wednesday. The 40 year-old children’s museum in Fairmount Park entered bankruptcy in September. 

The museum took on a $60 million bond when it moved into historic Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park in 2008. While it pulls most of its operating costs from ticket sales and memberships, the overhead of the building debt could never be resolved.

“Due to issues in the economy and other reasons, the debt could not be managed,” said president and CEO Patricia Wellenbach. “Our board worked very hard for years to figure out a way to manage that, they just could not raise the money.”

In court, bondholders agreed to a reduction in the museum’s debt obligation. It was able to exit bankruptcy court with a $5.75 million payment. Added to amounts paid at the beginning of bankruptcy proceedings, and $3 million held in reserve, bondholders were paid $11.25 million.

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Since entering bankruptcy proceedings last fall, the museum has raised $7.85 million through its Foundation for the Future campaign.

“We had donors who gave $10, and we had donors who gave millions. Every donation counted,” said Wellenbach. “I want to particularly thank an anonymous donor who gave $3.25 million, which was a huge catalyst for other donors.”

Wellenbach said the city of Philadelphia helped the museum with a $550,000 grant. It also received contributions from the Neubauer, Hamilton, and William Penn foundations.

Next month, the Museum begins a series of events marking its 40th birthday.

This disclosure, the Neubauer, Hamilton and William Penn foundations support WHYY.

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