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Peek inside 'The Rabbit Hole', an immersive children's lit museum being built in NKC

The 'Expor-a-storium' is years in the making
Peek inside 'The Rabbit HOle', an immersive children's lit museum being built in NKC
Posted at 7:39 AM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-25 13:14:16-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — You may have seen the rabbits hopping along in front of the Kansas City skyline in North Kansas City, but did you know inside that warehouse they’re working to bring the pages of children’s literature to life?

Debbie Pettid and Pete Cowdin hope to open The Rabbit hOle in fall 2023.

They started working on the project about seven years ago, but it’s been a dream decades in the making — even from the time they ran the Reading Reptile in Brookside.

“When I was a kid, I always tried to make the space I was reading about,” Pettid said.

Cowdin claims when complete, the space is "something that exists nowhere else in the country."

From Flat Stanley to Madeline and the world of Frog and Toad, the two and their team have been busy creating the ‘Explor-A-Storium’.

They say the 165,000-square-foot building will have dozens of exhibits that include some stories visitors know word-for-word along with some they may have never heard.

“This isn’t an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ museum, but Alice fell down the rabbit hole and was immersed in another world, and I think that’s what we’re creating here,” Cowdin said. “We’ve had to go out and really forge new ground and create agreements with authors, publishers and estates to get the rights to these books to do these projects..."

When entering the iconic Great Green Room from "Goodnight Moon," visitors are transported into what has become a precious book for many.

“There were teachers and librarians who were literally crying when they were in it,” Pettid said of a small group who got to see it.

And when visitors pick up the telephone in the room, they hear Thacher Hurd, the son of the illustrator, narrate the story.

“As soon as they contacted me, I was like ‘Yes! This is great, and I really wanna do this,'” Hurd said. “I know my father would have loved it.”

Pettid and Cowdin's team of fabricators are striving for replication perfection so children and their families can "discover stories in a new way."

“Kids and adults remember experiences,” Pettid said about the space intended to inspire all ages. “That’s where learning can kind of grow out of.”

At this time, two rabbits are lit atop the warehouse roof in North Kansas City. Pettid and Cowdin hope to light the third rabbit in January once they hit their latest fundraising goal of $500,000 as part of the $15 million project.

Learn more and follow the progress at their website.