Open daily Wed–Sun 9am-4pm, PLUS extra hours: Thur til 8pm, Sat 8am-5pm • Closed Mon/Tue • See full schedule

Open daily Wed–Sun 9am-4pm, PLUS extra hours: Thur til 8pm, Sat 8am-5pm • Closed Mon/Tue • See full schedule

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Wonderground: now open year-round with regular admission

The Wonderground

Welcome to a world of wonder. Madison Children’s Museum up-cycled a defunct former parking lot area into an awe-inspiring, four-seasons, outdoor play space.

The Wonderground is a permanent addition to Madison Children’s Museum and admission is included with all regular tickets.

Wonderground Phase 2 now complete

The Wonderground Phase 2 expansion, completed October 2022, takes the already-popular outdoor playspace to another level. The Thicket climbing sculpture’s double-decker “birdhouse” and twelve-foot tall spiral slide are already wowing pedestrians peeking through the fence. Ladders, climbing tubes, and bridges connect all parts of the climbing structure, providing innumerable paths to travel, exponentially magnifying the play potential of the whole sculpture.

Additionally, Phase 2 added wheelchair/walker/stroller-accessible pathways through the cabin gardens and orchard, a musical “Kiakophony” to play within the giant bucket, a new activity table in the orchard, and new gutters on the cabin made from a whole tree trunk.

About the Wonderground

The Wonderground adds 10,000 square feet of new play area to the museum, designed for play in all its forms. The space is designed as a work in progress, with additional features being added in 2022 and temporary exhibits cycling through so that there is always something new.

And—of course, because this is Madison Children’s Museum—the whole space is made using local, natural materials in conjunction with largely upcycled materials, objects, and artifacts, and created by MCM staff and artists from the community.

The first phase of the Wonderground opened in the fall of 2021 with more additions planned for the summer and fall of 2022.

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The Wonders of the Wonderground

  • The Thicket climbing sculpture – A 23-foot-tall climbing sculpture takes center stage, weaving together natural structural wood elements into a playful new adventure. The climber will test kids’ agility, strength, risk assessment, and climbing prowess while increasing their connection to each other as helpers and friends. Below the Thicket is an Understory area for additional imaginative play.
  • Cocoon Climber– Even kids too small to clamber up the thicket get their own natural climbing and exploration zone. Little kids can build their balance and proprioception along a series of climbable natural tree structures and other obstacles designed to stimulate their senses and practice coordination.
  • The Orchard, Cabin Yard & Gardens  – The museum’s historic 1830s cabin returns, now relocated onto a small knoll overlooking the rest of the exhibit space planted with native vegetables, fruits, and grasses. The cabin area includes artifacts for historical exploration, educational programs with food and urban gardening, and a quieter resting area. 2021-22 Log Cabin exhibit improvements and activities are supported by a grant from Wisconsin Humanities.
  • The Down Under – Protected from the elements by the museum’s school-group entrance above, the Down Under is a place for rest, respite, and special programs. Beautiful mosaic columns give the space a magical, imaginative feel. Small mini-exhibits from MCM’s past are planned to rotate throughout the space.

Fast facts about the Wonderground

  • Demolition started April 24, 2021 with construction continuing through the spring and summer. Installation of the Thicket climbing structure began in July 2021.
  • The Wonderground opened to the public with a two-day celebration on October 2 & 3, 2021
  • No special tickets are needed to play in the Wonderground.
  • The Wonderground is designed to be a four-seasons exhibit. Some features and special exhibits may change with the seasons and weather, but families are encouraged to dress in layers to play in the Wonderground year-round. The Wonderground may close due to severe weather.
  • The Wonderground is the museum’s single biggest expansion since we relocated to our current premises over ten years ago. The construction needed to create the space and the climbing sculptures are the most complicated projects the museum has endeavored in its forty-plus-year history.

Support the Wonderground

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