Co-op bookstore celebrates grand opening of branch in Storrs Center
More than 200 people the grand opening for the new University of Connecticut Co-op at Storrs Center and the neighboring Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry on Saturday. After moving from the Depot Campus, where it has been since 1996, the museum was relocated to Royce Circle in Storrs Center.
The event began at 2 p.m. when several members of the collaborative effort spoke to the crowd including John Bell, the director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, and Bill Simpson, president of the UConn Co-op, as well as other officials from the university, Department of Dining Services and bookstore.
Simpson, speaking to the crowd in the bookstore, said that the effort is going to be a collaboration between the three entities - Le Petit Marche CafÃ©, UConn Co-Op Bookstore at Storrs Center and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.
"When we first started talking about this place, we didn't want it to be like every other mall in the state of Connecticut," Mansfield mayor Betsy Patterson said. "We wanted it to have unique attributes that would bring people here. ... There's so much culture at the puppet museum."
Paterson said she hopes that the new location will attract more people, young and old, to visit the museum.
Once the ribbon was cut, some of the visitors took tours of the new museum and, starting at 3:30 p.m. performers inaugurated the museum's performance space.
While local residents, students and other guests visited the new bookstore, cafÃ© and museum, music was provided by the UConn Chordials a capella group and a UConn Jazz duo playing piano and bass.
Le Petit MarchÃ© CafÃ© offers different assortments of French foods including baguettes, crÃªpes, yogurts and pastries. The cafÃ© also serves sandwiches and beverages, and is run by UConn's Department of Dining Services. It is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Among the hundreds to attendees were authors, illustrators and poets like Caragh O'Brien, Ellen Litman, Ron Mallett, Bruce Cohen, Nan Sorensen, Florence Minor, Heather Webb, David Johnson, Barbara McClintock and Wendell Minor.
Chris Guido, a 6th-semester communications and Italian major who works at the bookstore said they have been getting ready for the event by moving in the books and other items since November.
While Guido estimated there were probably two hundred people in attendance for the grand opening, a post on the Facebook page for the museum said that more than "500 people visited the museum opening day - the most ever at the Ballard Museum."
BIMP is named after Professor Frank Ballard, who worked in the School of Fine Arts and helped establish the puppetry program. Admission to the museum is free and the hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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