Well, this is unfortunate if not entirely unexpected—another major institution serving Philly kids has finally been overtaken by its financial overreach: The Please Touch Museum is defaulting on its debt, and seems ready to head to bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, the board of the children’s museum approved a decision to forgo the current $2 million payment, putting the museum in default. The goal, said interim president/CEO Lynn McMaster, is to renegotiate with bondholders the terms on $60 million in bonds the museum issued to fund its renovations of Memorial Hall after fund-raising stalled.
Failing a deal, the museum might choose to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, or seek to merge with another group. McMaster said she did not immediately know of any potential merger partners. “We’ve just started to consider all of this, we don’t have any prospects right as of this minute.”
McMaster stepped in as interim CEO on Sunday when Laura Foster departed after five years in the job. Foster had succeeded museum longtime chief Nancy Kolb, who retired after the move to Memorial Hall.
It’s been five years since the museum moved from Center City to its Fairmount location—a move that occurred, unfortunately, just as the Great Recession hit. The museum’s budget tripled, but annual giving stayed the same; the resulting disparity seems finally to have caught up with the institution.