- Programs & Events
- Special Events
- MCM on the Road
- For Grown-ups
- Teacher Resources
- Parties & Rentals
Past Exhibits at Madison Children’s Museum
Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls & Houses from the Museum’s Collection
May 6 through January 8, 2017 (in Community Concourse gallery)
Madison Children’s Museum was built by dolls, quite literally. MCM’s unique and unparalleled relationship with American Girl for nearly three decades has provided the backbone of our financial support through our annual benefit sale of their seconds and returns, which have been lovingly repaired and sold by thousands of volunteers. Without the support of American Girl, and all of the benefit sale supporters, MCM would simply not exist.
Over the same three decades, MCM has built up a collection of dolls, houses and miniatures and will unveil them for the first time in a new exhibit called Get Small: Miniatures, Dolls and Houses from the Museum’s Collection The exhibit features beautifully handcrafted dolls and miniature environments from around the world, selected from the museum’s extensive doll and dollhouse collection. Several models of MCM exhibits, created as staff designed the new building, will also complement the exhibit.
Playing with dolls and miniatures has been a huge part of early childhood for centuries, in nearly every culture around the globe. While some might think of it as just a leisure pastime, doll play helps children develop in significant ways. Playing with dolls and miniatures helps children develop cognitive and fine motor skills, language skills, nurturing and caring skills, and an ability to practice dealing with strong emotions. Most important, it helps children bring the large world into manageable size, where they can exert some measure of control. This helps them gain confidence in their abilities to solve problems and successfully interact with their environment.
Get Small featured dozens of dolls, large and small, including several from the museum’s American Girl collection. Dolls are made with a variety of materials including wood, cornhusks, apple cores, nuts, stone, fabric, china, plastics and more. Within the exhibition, children looked behind the scenes at the world of miniatures in five separate doll houses that were painstakingly restored to their original glory. Two of the dollhouses are replicas of existing houses in Madison; an additional house was made by Madison artist (and MCM Art Studio manager) Laurie Rossbach, and another by a Madison girl and her father. Additionally, children had an opportunity to design their own interior environment, moving around furniture, accessories, and rooms to create their dream house.
The show was centered in the Community Concourse, but also spilled into other parts of the museum, including Possible-opolis, the Art Studio and the Rooftop, where kids played with miniatures or created miniatures in each setting. In the Art Studio for example, a new miniature station was added, where visitors created miniature furniture, accessories and objects for a community created doll house.
Sidewalk Surprise Ser•i•cul•ture
Clay, engobe, and cord
August through November 2016
The practice of rearing silkworms for the production of silk is called sericulture. Artist Rachelle Miller says she is “fascinated with the process of growing and changing, to remember where we have been and to know where we are going. In the case of silkworms, their cocoons are a product of this transformation which is the inspiration of my piece.”
The Polling Place
October 7 through November 8, 2016
Welcome to The Polling Place, where the people have the power to decide. In the spirit of this election year, the museum asked for your help to make important decisions about upcoming exhibits, scheduled to open in 2017.
The three candidates were:
Crawl through a larger-than-life bluegill named Seymore and learn about the fascinating story of fish anatomy. Feel yourself immersed in Seymore’s underwater world, swim with his lake friends, and see what creatures you can catch from the fishing bridge.
Turn yourself upside down with convex and concave mirror fun. Try on your neighbor’s hairdo, skirt or t-shirt with our magic disguise mirror, or see yourself larger than life in an assortment of funhouse mirrors.
Cars! Cars! Cars!
Take a seat behind the wheel of a souped-up Chevy and imagine yourself racing around the speedway. Design your own race car, and race miniature hot wheels cars against one another on our large-scale racetrack.
The winning exhibit, Seymore’s Adventure, will open to the public on inauguration day, January 21, 2017.
The polling results:
Seymore’s Adventure: 471 votes
Cars! Cars! Cars!: 428 votes
Magical Mirrors: 411 votes
Referendum: Should MCM celebrate National Poop Day? 571 yes; 350 no
Sidewalk Surprise Birthday Party
May through August 2016
Tyanna Buie is a young accomplished artist/printmaker hailing from Milwaukee who received her MFA from UW-Madison in 2014. She is currently working in Detroit as an assistant professor of printmaking at the College for Creative Studies. Tyanna’s piece Birthday Party is a printed image of a child’s birthday party, and is reflective of much of her work that stems from her own life.
Back to Babytown
November 2015 through July 2016
Drawing inspiration from Montgomery Ward’s nursery department, Madison Children’s Museum created a replica 1930’s era nursery, including baby items and furniture as featured in the Ward catalog. Children can play with life-sized baby dolls and accessories, such as a bassinet, stroller, high chair, baby bath, scale and other items. There was also a display case featuring baby books, clothing and nursery items from the 1930’s.
Growing Crystals: The Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition
February 1 through May 2016
This exhibit featured the award-winning crystals from the Wisconsin Crystal Growing Competition, put on by the UW-Madison Chemistry Department for middle and high school students in Wisconsin. Last year high school students made crystals using Blue Vitriol, or copper sulfate pentahydrate CuSO4.5(H2O). These large blue crystals of cupric sulfate are nicely shaped, easy to grow and inexpensive. Cupric sulfate is a common pesticide, and helps fight fungal infections in both plants and animals. Because of its vibrant blue color, it is also used in pottery, coloring glass and fireworks.
Wisconsin middle school students made crystals using potassium alum, or KAl(SO4)2.12H2O. This colorless compound has a sweetish taste and can be found on a spice rack at a grocery story. It is safe, grows quickly and produces large, white beautiful octahedral colorless crystals. Potassium alum is a commonly occurring mineral mined in Italy, Tennessee, Arizona, Philippines, and Australia. It has a wide range of uses from deodorant to fire retardant for textiles to preparation of Swiss cheese and water purification.
The Compbook Art of Lynda Barry
October 2015 through April 3, 2016
Grand Opening: Friday, October 2, 5 – 9 p.m. at Gallery Night.
The Exhibit: At the core of the exhibit are 20 composition books featuring Lynda Barry’s sketches and writing. These “compbooks” — part-diary, part-sketchbook — have never been shared publicly, so this provides a rare glimpse into the artist’s life and how events, musings, and memory become art. The exhibit has many interactive elements, including:
- A giant compbook for visitors to pose for photos, bringing them into the artwork
- A “magnetic poetry” style area for creating stories with various words and images
- The Magic Cephalapod Writing Station, where visitors will share quick stories about themselves
- The Wheel of Chance, where a quick spin determines the subject of a one-minute drawing exercise
About the Artist: Local cartoonist and world renowned writer Lynda Barry loves to draw fast and slow, scribble, collage, cut, paste, write, question and most of all—inspire others, young and old, to find their creative voice. She reminds us that by simply PLAYING AROUND, keeping our hands moving, drawing on our own memories and experience, and not worrying about the final “product,” we can unleash ourselves, keep focus and create incredible images and stories.
October 2015 through January 2016
Grand Opening: Friday, October 2, 5 – 9 p.m. at Gallery Night. Meet and visit with artist Finn Jackson, as well as animals from Heartland Farm Sanctuary.
The Exhibit: Located in the Community Concourse, Farmyard Friends will showcase a number of drawings and paintings inspired by the artist’s visits to Heartland Farm Sanctuary – the only animal sanctuary for farm animals in Wisconsin.
About the Artist: Eleven-year-old Finn paints and draws portraits of the animals that reside at Heartland Farm Sanctuary and donates proceeds from sales of his artwork to the farm. Heartland recently launched a fund-raising campaign to renovate its 18,000 square-foot barn. A portion of sales from Finn’s work will be directed toward improvements to help keep his beloved animal friends warm, safe and dry.
Finn started his painting and philanthropy when he was just seven years old and got the idea of combing painting with helping animals after reading about a young girl who raised money to help birds injured in the Gulf oil spill. Finn has raised over $3,000 since he began.
Liberia at Play/The Don and Suzanne Granger Collection
June 3 – September 13 2015
This beautiful collection of objects, art and artifacts from daily village life in Liberia during the early 1960’s has recently been donated to the museum by long time Madison residents Don and Suzanne Granger. Mr. Granger lived and worked as a teacher in Liberia in the early 1960’s as a member of the International Voluntary Services, a precursor to the present day Peace Corps.
The exhibition centers on play and family life of children in Liberia, and features toys, games, basketry, clothing, utensils, cultivation equipment, and assorted objects from daily life. Objects will be displayed side by side with contemporary photographs, introducing children to the idea that all cultures solve similar problems in unique ways, while showcasing the amazing ingenuity of Liberian craftspeople.
Special thanks to Don and Suzanne Granger for the donation of their collection. Exhibit generously supported by Endres Mfg. Company Foundation and the Wisconsin Arts Board with the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Liberia at Play was curated and designed by Lynne Harper, Nancy Bellinger and Sandra O’Connor
Glow Show, II
May – September, 2015
MCM transforms the corner windows facing the Capitol with a full array of handcrafted neon artwork created by UW-Madison and Art Institute of Chicago glass students. Kids and students in the Art Studio will create works of art that will then be transformed by art students at both campuses, into beautiful neon sculpture that will light up the corner of our building.
Picture, Picture by Bernadette Witzack
June 3 – September 13
Bold, bright colors in geometric and organic shapes form a world of wonder in this new site-specific installation by artist Bernadette Witzack.
A note from the artist: I am an improvisational, process-oriented artist. I usually draw and paint on wood, so working with transparent materials was a big challenge for me. One of the special things about the Sidewalk Surprise gallery is that viewers can actually see through the artwork. I have never been in the position to experiment with light in this way, and so I was excited to work with transparent materials. The bold, bright colors and graphic elements in this piece are inspired by children’s blocks, toys and books as well as the basic shapes in the world all around us. I hope you enjoy finding all the little shape moments and color stories hidden in Picture Picture.
Bernadette Witzack holds a MFA in Art & Design from the University of Michigan and a BA in Studio Art from Beloit College. Bernadette has apprenticed as a puppet designer for Bread & Puppet Theater in Glover, Vermont and Skylark Productions in New York City. Bernadette Witzack’s artwork has been exhibited nationally at venues including the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Portrait Society (Milwaukee), Zhou B. Arts Center (Chicago), Gallery Project (Ann Arbor), University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) and Wayne State University (Detroit).
Curious Stories by Olive Earley
Olive Earley, one of Madison and MCM’s’s (she’s a former volunteer!) home-grown talents has been making art since she was a baby, or maybe before that time. Her beautifully crafted soft sculpture dolls depict historical figures, people she knows and imaginary people too. Olive got her start at an early age, as the daughter of two prominent Madison artists, but has found a style that is uniquely her own. Ms. Earley’s collection is impressive and extra-ordinary, especially when one considers that she is just a high-schooler.
Laura Anderson Barbata, El Senor de Aztlan
January 15 – May 15, 2015
This exquisite costume made by renowned Mexican artist Laura Anderson Barbata will hang in the Community Concourse/ Possible-opolis exhibit area, as part of the kick-off to Barbata’s year-long arts residency at UW Madison Arts Institute and throughout the community. The piece is made from diverse textiles, thread, yarn, cd’s, fiber, aluminum and polycarbonate. Barbata will be working on costume making in the Museum’s art studio during her tenure in Madison, in preparation for STRUT!, the community wide mutli-cultural parade.
View photos from workshops led by Barbata
Lessons from Penguins
January 17 – May 5 2015
This stunning collection of 120 photographs by award-winning photographer J.J. L’Heureux celebrates the penguins of Antarctica.
The photos of these often playful, exuberant birds will be accompanied by a word or two reminding visitors to sing, play, and seize the day!
Exhibition organized through Katharine T. Carter & Associates and supported by Endres Mft. Company Foundation. On display in the MCM Community Concourse and Mendota Stairwell through March 30, 2015.
View photos from the exhibit grand opening.
Play, Back in the Day
December 2014 – June 2015
This winter, Madison Children’s Museum is introducing a new way for kids to learn through play with a vintage toys exhibit called, “Play, Back in the Day.”
Each month through June, a “new” vintage toy collection will be featured for visitors to enjoy while lounging in the Window to the Past space—an area setup to resemble a living room.