Courtesy Of Thanksgiving Point
Rendering of Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. The museum would have environment and water power exhibits.

LEHI — Hoping to build a new children's museum, Thanksgiving Point officials have asked the Utah County Commission for financial help.

The nonprofit institute, which has never asked for monetary help, asked the commission last week for a possible donation of $8 million to build the proposed Museum of Natural Curiosity.

Thanksgiving Point officials hope the amount of tourism and revenue the institute brings to Utah County will help commissioners decide to give them the money, said Erica VanAmen, director of communications for Thanksgiving Point. Last year, 1.75 million people visited Thanksgiving Point; the number is on track to rise this year.

Utah County commissioners have yet to decide how much, if any, money will be given to Thanksgiving Point, said Commissioner Larry Ellertson. They are working through the details and determining what can be accomplished based on commitments and future plans, he said. Ellertson said he hopes the commission will make a decision within a few weeks.

"I think it's fair to say we have a favorable view of Thanksgiving Point," he said.

Lehi approved $1 million for donation to the museum, which will cost about $20 million. The land, which is worth about $5 million, was donated to the institute, and other grants and donations will be sought in order to help build the museum, VanAmen said.

"That was a great thing for (Lehi) to have them support us in that way," she said.

Thanksgiving Point officials hope that if the Utah County Commission offers money, along with Lehi, the state will also provide funds for the building.

VanAmen also said the spurt of economic development in the area will continue as Thanksgiving Point grows, which the institute hopes will be a selling point.

Thanksgiving Point plans to offer free museum tours to school field-trip groups, which it can do only with the help of financial aid. Schools are normally charged for field trips so that Thanksgiving Point can be self-supporting, VanAmen said.

The museum will be located next to the Children's Discovery Garden and near the golf course and visitor's center and will feature hands-on learning, including exhibits about the environment, water power and various other issues.

The Museum of Natural Curiosity will join the Museum of Ancient Life, gardens, restaurants, movie theaters and other venues at Thanksgiving Point.