The Jim & Susan Bakke Art Studio is a drop-in area where children can create original works of art using different media, display their work, and interact with visiting artists on community-based projects. Children can sculpt, paint, draw, and weave; and make textiles, mixed media, photography, prints, digital media, and pottery, some on a rotating basis. In addition to the visual arts, acting, dancing, music making, and writing will have a presence, along with a monthly artist in-residence program. A classroom housed within the studio allows groups to participate in special art programs, while the studio remains open to visitors. Highlights include an interactive paint wall that gives kids a chance to paint directly on windows and then wash their work away when they’re finished; and the return of the Shadow Room, where children can capture their shadows and sign their names with illuminated pen writers.
Please note that the Art Studio closes at 4:30 p.m. daily except on Twilight Wednesdays, when it closes at 7:30 p.m.
The free DeAtley Community Concourse features exciting interactive water exhibits, gear exhibits, ball runs, video pieces, and public art. Expect the unexpected in the concourse, where you will find an interactive front desk, surprises tucked away in unusual places, a “squashed” house, the KidShare map and postcard storytelling station, and the Locally Grown exhibit. The Community Concourse also features The Roman Candle Sparkler, which offers midday snacks and healthy, satisfying lunch items.
The Brand Log Cabin is an authentically restored log home typical of the size and type built by Madison’s earliest European settlers. The cabin was recovered from a Walworth County homestead with help from The Nature Conservancy and professionally restored on a corner of the museum’s parking lot. Exhibit content has been developed in partnership with area third-grade classrooms as part of a new Madison Metropolitan School District local history curriculum.
Furnished with historical household artifacts and replicas, the cabin offers young visitors opportunity for dramatic play. Children will cook meals on the open hearth, write with quill pens, play historic children’s games, churn butter, try their hands at quilting, and learn about the tools and skills that made life possible for these early settlers. Outside, children will do laundry, haul water, harvest vegetables, try a two-man cross-cut saw or a draw knife, and learn about pioneer medicine in the herb garden.
During summer hours, the cabin is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 1-3 p.m. Please check our calendar to confirm cabin hours.
This schedule is subject to change due to school group programming, extreme weather, and staffing availability.
Possible-opolis™ is a whimsical, open-ended interactive environment for ages 5 and up that celebrates the wonders of invention and creativity while engaging children’s brains and hands in solving problems. Located on the second floor in the Bolz Gallery, this loosely knit “city” inspires kids to see the world as full of possibilities. Possible-opolis™, built at the intersection of art and science, uses more than 90 percent recycled, reclaimed, salvaged, and repurposed materials. Kids will enjoy the Wayback Machine, an interactive electronic playground; Hodgepodge Mahal, a two-story climber made from salvaged and re purposed materials; the Gerbil Wheeel, which harnesses kid power to demonstrate the amount of energy generated through physical activity; and the Cow Hoist, which employs pulleys along with block-and-tackle rigs and a harness to raise and lower MCM’s beloved cow, Gertrude, from Possible-opolis™ to the first-floor Community Concourse.
Rooftop Ramble, the gift of Pleasant T. Rowland, is a fully accessible four-season exhibit, programming, and community space. It highlights children’s innate connection to the natural world, explores urban ecology and weather, introduces kids to the wonders of the sky, and serves as a platform for discovering the interconnections between ecological systems that support life. The rooftop also serves as an appealing space for public and private events, receptions, and parties.
Highlights include the Clubhouse, a classroom that also includes a greenhouse, solar oven, live-animal terrariums, rotating urban ecology exhibit, and kids’ nature collections; the children’s garden, with a chicken coop, homing pigeons, and herb and salad gardens; and alternative energy demonstrations. View real-time solar and weather data by scrolling down to MCM on this page.
Please note that Rooftop Ramble closes at 4:30 p.m. daily except on Twilight Wednesdays, when it closes at 7:30 p.m.
The Wildernest, in the Evjue Early Learning Gallery, is designed to serve children ages birth to 5. It’s a wonder-filled global village alive with light, texture, color, and boundless opportunity. The Wildernest is built almost entirely out of natural materials and sustainably harvested local hardwoods that increase sensory appeal and model replicable best practices for indoor learning environments. Small activity huts provide culturally responsive, open-ended activities that offer children myriad opportunities to learn about science, math, and the arts.
Other notable features of The Wildernest include the Bone Bridge; a raised platform and tree house; a slide to enter the area; a water dome that allows for pouring, dumping, and painting; a horizontal climbing wall; a safe, comfortable infant play area; and the Cozy Cottage, a parent resource room filled with early learning materials where visitors can calm a child or feed a baby.
Read John Robinson’s article, “Play and Risk at the New MCM,” here.