Children's Museum Re-opens Gift Shop, Renovated by Retrained Coal and Industrial Workers

Visitors to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will enjoy a renovated gift store featuring a new handmade furnishings created from reclaimed woods and built by former coal miners and industrial workers who have been retrained in woodworking. This is the Museum’s for project with Saw’s Edge Woodshop, an enterprise of Coalfield Development’s Rediscover Appalachia Project, based in Huntington, West Virginia.

Some notable creations in the North Side museum’s gift shop include a new cash-wrap counter and custom bench. Saw’s Edge worked closely with the Museum’s designers to create a space that is more accessible for staff and customers with disabilities. Many of the toys, games and stuffed animals are now located on lower shelving and in floor bins to make them more accessible to young children. Old materials, including cabinets and wood fixtures, were moved to Saw’s Edge, where they will be re-purposed for future projects.

Coalfield Development is a nonprofit that trains young men and women in new trades to replace the coal and industrial jobs they've lost. In 2015, West Virginia researchers projected that coal production would drop by 29 percent in 2035. Hundreds of coal miners have been laid off, and many have no other skills.

The venture has created more than 40 on-the-job training positions and launched five new businesses in real estate development, construction, woodworking, agricultural and artisan trades.

CMP and Saw’s Edge plan to collaborate again in 2019 to create more one-of-a kind furnishings and to share the story of how people make things.

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Anne Fullenkamp