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September 15, 2015

Days after bankruptcy, Please Touch Museum gets $1.25M donations

Children's museum needs to raise $10 million by March to pay back bondholders

Museums Please Touch
Please Touch Museum Please Touch Museum/Facebook

Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum chose an unusual venue to announce that it had received a million dollar donation: bankruptcy court.

The cash-strapped children's museum announced at a bankruptcy court hearing on Tuesday that it has already received two anonymous donations, one for $1 million and one for $250,000, toward its goal of raising $10 million in order to retire its debt.

Museum CEO Lynn McMaster called the donations "very encouraging" and said "while much work remains to achieve our $10 million goal, we read this as a clear sign of our treasured value to the region."

Please Touch announced on Friday that it was filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to restructure almost $60 million in bond debt.

The museum will remain open, but as part of the settlement, bondholders must be repaid around $11 million by March.

Opened in 1976, the Museum went into debt when it moved from Center City to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park in 2008, right as the recession hit.

Related story: Please Touch Museum digs out from under $60 million in debt

McMcaster said that bankruptcy will help the museum by removing its debt, making donors less wary of contributing funds.

“The burden of the bond obligation proved to be an impediment to our ability to raise funds because potential donors were reluctant to donate to an entity saddled with the bond obligation,” McMaster said. “That obstacle has now been removed.”

The philanthropy review site Charity Navigator rated Please Touch only one out of four stars due to its financial situation. Only 48 percent of its income goes towards programming, while the rest goes to administrative and fundraising expenses.