Deb Ganley, who founded the Cheshire Children’s Museum a decade ago and has worked as its executive director ever since, is set to step down at the end of the year.

The Keene resident announced her decision in a news release from the museum, at 149 Emerald St. in Keene, late last week.

“Although bittersweet, I have decided that now is a time for fresh ideas for the museum,” she said in an email to The Sentinel on Monday. “And after being involved with the museum for over 10 years (several years getting started and over 9 years as the director), I am ready for a new adventure.”

Ganley added that she’s not exactly sure what her next step will be, “although it will involve part time work and more volunteer work.” In the meantime, the museum’s board of directors is searching for her successor, and she said she’ll stay to ensure a smooth transition. The museum will remain open throughout that process, Ganley added.

The museum, which opened in August 2012 at the former Colony Mill Marketplace on West Street, moved to its current location in 2017 when its original home was redeveloped into an apartment complex. The facility offers a variety of hands-on exhibits for children up to about 10 years old.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum drew more than 31,000 visitors a year, according to the release, in which Ganley expressed her gratitude for the community’s support.

“Your investment, involvement and interest have helped to create a wonderful community resource,” she said in the release. “It is my hope that you will continue to support the museum so that it will grow and flourish for current and future children of our community.”

Ganley led the charge to establish the Cheshire Children’s Museum after taking her daughter to many similar establishments, often more than an hour from Keene.

“The museum has been like a third child to me,” Ganley, who also has a son, said in her email. “... It has hardly seemed like work most days. Young children need a place to play without screens, a place to be able to use their imaginations and to just be kids!”

Jack Rooney can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or jrooney@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @RooneyReports.