After Bankruptcy, Please Touch Gets $1.25 Million in Donations

Its $10 million fundraising plan to finally get out of debt and build new exhibits just got a big jolt.

Memorial Hall, the site of the Please Touch Museum. Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Memorial Hall, the site of the Please Touch Museum. Photo by Jeff Fusco.

The Please Touch Museum has received two donations totaling $1.25 million — which will go a long way toward helping the facility meet its ambitious $10 million funding goal by the March 2016 deadline.

One donation is for $1 million and the other is for $250,000. The donors wish to remain anonymous.

Please Touch had been saddled with approximately $60 million in debt after borrowing to move from its longtime 21st Street home to palatial Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. Last week, the popular kids museum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and entered into an agreement that would pay bondholders just $11 million.

The donations were announced during the first hearing in the Please Touch Museum’s bankruptcy case, held on Tuesday at the federal courthouse at 9th and Market Streets.

After announcing the bankruptcy plan, the museum also released plans for a $10 million fundraising campaign to raise money for the bondholder settlement and create new exhibits. It set a deadline of March 2016 for completion.

The deal with shareholders appears to have made donors less afraid to offer gifts to the museum. (Who wants to give money to a failing institution, right?) The two donations of $1.25 million announced on Tuesday represent more gifts than the museum got in all of 2014 ($945,000.)

The settlement doesn’t mean the museum has to pay $11 million to the bondholders. Because the bondholders retained some cash and were already paid some more, they’re owed just $5.75 million.

“Getting two substantial donations right out of the gate in this campaign is very encouraging,” said Please Touch Museum president and CEO Lynn McMaster in a statement. “While much work remains to achieve our $10 million goal, we read this as a clear sign of our treasured value to the region. The museum has received a lot of positive feedback from all corners of the donor community as news of the settlement has become public.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jean K. FitzSimon, who is overseeing the settlement, approved all of the museum’s motions filed today, including allowing the institution to use its cash reserves to continue paying its employees and maintaining operations during the legal process, the museum said in a statement. The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15.