New museum in Monroe one step closer to reality

This is the current Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, located at 323 Walnut St. in Monroe.
This is the current Northeast Louisiana Children's Museum, located at 323 Walnut St. in Monroe.(Nydja Hood)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 2:54 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A new museum in Monroe is one step closer to becoming reality now that the Ouachita Parish Police Jury has approved entering into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the Northeast Louisiana Children Museum (NELCM), according to Development Director at NELCM.

Approval of the CEA was the last step needed for the jury to provide $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. ARPA funding was made available to local government bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and police jury members awarded allocated dollars to each of their districts to go toward construction of a proposed museum in Forsythe Park in Monroe.

This new museum will be 22,000 sq. ft. and will be located in the former city swimming pool area of Forsythe park, said museum director Melissa Saye.

District F jury member Lonnie Hudson, District D jury member Michael Thompson, and District C jury member Larry Bratton all helped lead the jury’s funding commitment to the project.

“Collaboration with the fell0w jurors and other stakeholders on projects like this one is what makes local government work,” Bratton said. “We cannot wait to enjoy the excitement in young children’s faces once this new facility is up and running.”

Saye said the support from the jury has been overwhelming.

““The outpouring of support from this region for this project is amazing!” Saye said. “The Ouachita Parish Police Jury has clearly made improving the quality of life and educational opportunities for our children a priority. We appreciate their support and financial commitment.”

The recent demolition and filling in of the old pool has brought interest to the community of Ouachita Parish.

“Nostalgia for the pool is a part of why making new memories at the future museum makes this move a win-win,” Saye said. “The City of Monroe will lease a portion of the cleared pool area to us and will preserve and renovate the old natatorium building for other uses.”

Fundraising for this new museum will be a key focus as everything comes together, Landry said.

“Our children are our most precious commodity and through local support, we have the opportunity to provide quality educational experiences in a new space that will impact visitors for years to come,” Landry said. “We are currently in the final stages of the design of the new modern and spacious museum. This facility is going to be such a source of pride for our region.”

To find out more information or to donate to the museum, visit