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July 5, 2005 > Children's museum planned for Tri-Cities

Children's museum planned for Tri-Cities

by Sunil Dhar

The Tri-City area is well known for its high academic standards and parental involvement in education. Now a group of parents have created a non-profit organization to enhance opportunities for learning with plans to open a world-class interactive museum and learning center.

The Kimbookai Museum is the brainchild of Lin Lin Otani and a group of dedicated volunteers from Fremont, Newark and Union City. According to Otani, all children in the Tri-City area need a place to go where they can just be kids, touch everything and explore.

The pursuit of Kimbookai began in 1997 when Otani moved to the Bay Area with her two-year-old son and found that there was no children's museum nearby. In 2001 she began the quest with a number of other visionaries to create a local museum and education center. Incorporated a year ago, this group and has begun a capital campaign to raise $2 million.

The parents created a legend of how Kimbookai was named. Two children, Kimo and Maboo, meet with a happy spirit, Kimboo, on their journey though the mountains. Kimboo called upon the people to construct a special place dedicated to playfulness and to nurturing, where all would be welcome and encouraged to seek and explore the many paths to enlightenment. This place would be called Kimbookai.

The organization is looking for 5,000 square feet to create a series of interactive displays in a circular structure so the children can explore without getting lost. Plans include role-playing areas, where children can "dress up" pretending to be a fireman, a ballerina or a cook and a water-play area where the properties of water can be explored.

Kimbookai is currently accepting monetary gifts for program and exhibit development site/location costs (rental fees) and "gifts in kind" donations of services and/or new quality items such as: Real estate, attorney, architect, contractor, print services, office supplies (paper, pens, binders, envelopes, postage, copy machine, computer and printers) storage unit to hold exhibits, art supplies, small tables and chairs for children, water tables, train tables, various children activities, toys and structures. All donations are tax-deductible.

Volunteers who would like to serve on a committee to help make this dream a reality can contact Marianela Pena, board president at (510) 742-6474 or visit

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