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New Exhibits & Installations

We offer numerous opportunities for children and their caregivers to engage deeply with the arts

Now Open

Sidewalk Surprise: The Crossroads of Art & Science
The Milky Way Dairy Bar
Coops to Cathedrals: Nature, Childhood, and the Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Stair Trek
Collections Case: Make Your Own Luck & Tiny Friends and Foes


Sidewalk Suprise: The Crossroads of Art & Science

Opened October 2018

The Crossroads of Art & Science was created by the UW-Madison Chemistry Department’s scientific glassblower, Tracy Owen Drier, who also created the art piece at the beginning of our Wayback Machine exhibit, in Possibleopolis.

Most people associate glassblowing with art, but it is also essential for scientific research. In order to conduct experiments, chemists need specially-designed glassware that can only be made by hand. This equipment is made from a special type of glass (called Borosilicate) that can withstand sudden and extreme temperature changes.

The Crossroads of Art & Science will be on display in Madison Children’s Museum’s Community Concourse until early spring, 2019.

The Milky Way Dairy Bar

Opened February 7, 2018

Travel back in time with us to the 1930s and Madison’s thriving ice cream scene in our newest exhibit, The Milky Way Dairy Bar. With Schoep’s Ice Cream on the east side and several dairy bars on State Street, kids in pre-war Madison had a lot of good choices where they could find classic flavors like butterscotch, mint chip, and strawberry. Here at the museum we’re re-creating a vintage dairy bar in our “Window to the Past” space next to the front desk. Visit the exhibit and… Find out how much an ice cream cone cost in 1935. Balance as many ice cream scoops on top of a cone as you can. Play the part of soda jerk. Create a wacky new ice cream flavor. And assemble a giant ice cream sundae (invented, by some accounts, in Two Rivers, Wisconsin).

Coops to Cathedrals Frank Lloyd Wright Logo

Coops to Cathedrals: Nature, Childhood, and the Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright 

Opened June 2017

From Coops to Cathedrals is a new, hands-on exhibit inviting children and families to interact with the organic design of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and explore the inspiration he drew from the natural world.

In rooms designed to evoke his childhood bedroom in Madison, his uncle’s farm in Spring Green, and his architecture school and studio at Taliesin in Spring Green, children are immersed in the kind of observing, experimentation, tinkering, inventing, designing, working, and building that marked Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin childhood and later life.

Core to Cosmos small

Stair Trek: Core to Cosmos

Opened February 2017

Stair Trek is a series of reimagined stairwells that are part of our larger, multi-year community initiative, Design to Move, which was made possible by prestigious grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the KaBOOM! Play Everywhere Challenge. This project responds to a growing childhood obesity and inactivity epidemic in Dane County and across the country. By transforming stairs into fun and creative experiences, visitors are more likely to use them and get critical daily exercise while they play.

The result is five revitalized stairwells: the Hidden Treasures mural and hide and seek game at the City County Building, an outdoor pocket park at Bayview Foundation, a series of family portraits of residents at the YWCA, a nature-based mural at One City Early Learning, and a whimsical set of screen-printed images on glass at the Mullins/ULI parking ramp near the museum.

Back at the museum, we installed our first inhouse Stair Trek exhibit: Core to Cosmos, creating a trip from deep inside the Earth’s core on our lowest level, all the way up to stars, planets, and spaceships at the roof access. A montage of drawings and audio recordings made by over 700 children at the museum over the previous year was collected, curated, and stitched together by local digital media artist Jojin Van Winkle. Core to Cosmos opened in February 2017. Future stairwells are planned both for the museum and around the community for years to come.

Collections Case: Make Your Own Luck & Tiny Friends and Foes

cloverOpened July 2018

Just across from our front desk, the collections case features a rotating display of interesting toys and curios.

Collections: Make Your Own Luck spotlights the four-leaf clover collecting talent of the museum’s own Gabriella Gerhardt (recently profiled in the Cap Times), including tips on how you can find your own four, five, six, or even seven leafed clovers.

Tiny Friends and Foes: Artwork of Kim Caisse and Friends, located in the Sparkler Cafe, includes cloth versions of various bacteria and microorganisms that inhabit or infect the human body.

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