Madison Children’s Museum was founded in 1980 as the vision of a group of early childhood specialists. The founding board of directors and volunteers built traveling exhibits that were displayed at neighborhood centers, parks and playgrounds. They also operated a pilot museum in the basement of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. The success of the pilot program prompted the museum to relocate to a warehouse at Bedford and West Washington. The new location was a success, and the museum was often filled to capacity.
After a successful capital campaign, Madison Children’s Museum opened its doors in another rented location on 100 State Street in 1991. The museum flourished at this site and once again outgrew its space. In 2005, MCM acquired a $5 million, five-story office building through the generosity of W. Jerome Frautschi. The museum undertook a $10 million capital campaign to renovate the building, create an accessible green roof, and install new exhibits. The new facility opened on August 14, 2010, and greatly expands the museum’s capacity to serve larger audiences, older children, and school groups in a strong interdisciplinary program that emphasizes the arts, sciences, history, culture, health, and civic engagement.
Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) connects children with their families, their communities, and the world beyond through discovery learning and creative play.
2012 – Wisconsin Art Education Association’s Celebrating Youth Art Month Award
2012– AIA Wisconsin Design Merit Award
2012– Wisconsin American Institute of Architects Owner Award
2011 – National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
2011– MCM received Madison Magazine‘s Best of Madison Gold Award for Best Museum
2011– Wisconsin Builder Top Projects Award presented to Madison Children’s Museum and J.H. Findorff & Son
2011 – MCM received the MetLife Foundation & Association of Children’s Museums’ Promising Practice Replication Award for its Only Local initiative; the funds will allow for the development of an online tool kit that will share MCM’s green practices with museums everywhere
2011 – Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Design Award in the Environmental Achievement category presented to Sergenian’s Floor Coverings for its work on Madison Children’s Museum
2011– MCM won In Business magazine’s Commercial Design Award in the Best New Development or Renovation–Education category
2011 – MCM was ranked the fifth-best children’s museum in the U.S. by Parents magazine
2011 – MCM received the Downtown Madison, Inc. Community Asset Award
2010 – MCM received the Best Practices Award from the Association of Midwest Museums for its Only Local initiative, which includes green practices and involvement of the local community in planning for the new museum
2010 – MCM received the 2010 Promising Practice Award from MetLife Foundation and the Association of Children’s Museums for its Only Local initiative, which includes green practices and involvement of the local community in planning for the new museum
2007 – MCM was rated as one of the “Top 20 Children’s Museums in America” by Grand Magazine
2004 – MCM won the American Folklore Society Dorothy Howard Prize for Folklore and Education for the Hmong at Heart exhibit
2003 – MCM was selected as one of just nine children’s museums in the country to receive a grant for the Freeman Foundation Asian Exhibit Initiative, administered by the Association of Children’s Museums
2002 – MCM was rated one of the top 10 children’s museums in the nation, Child Magazine
At Madison Children’s Museum we focus on children, including their future. We are committed to being a sustainable organization, balancing economic, social, and environmental factors to help ensure that we meet our present needs, while enabling future generations to meet their needs. We empower and equip children to actively shape the world they will inherit.
As educational and community leaders, we will:
- integrate the principles of sustainability into all major business decisions
- seek strategic collaborations
- evaluate and reduce the environmental impacts of our operations
- design and develop our products, services, and materials with the long-term health of our children and community in mind
Several leading children’s museums, including Madison Children’s Museum, have begun employing green practices in their operations, expansion projects, and exhibit environments. To coordinate this endeavor, Madison Children’s Museum launched GreenExhibits.org to provide museum exhibit designers and fabricators a resource for designing and building exhibits and environments that best support healthy spaces and a healthier future for kids and the environment. Visit the website today to learn more!