Open Wed–Sun 9am–4pm, plus late on Thur til 8pm. • Get tickets.

Open Wed–Sun 9am–4pm, plus late on Thur til 8pm. • Get tickets.

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Explore the World Beyond with Family and Friends at Madison Children’s Museum

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Madison is home to the entertaining and educational Children’s Museum, a unique staple in the community that features eclectic exhibits like a human-sized Gerbil Wheel. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors stop by the decades-old museum that makes extensive use of local artists.

In 1980, early childhood specialists founded the Children’s Museum, but it wasn’t until 2010 that it moved to its current location on Hamilton Street to the renovated and historic Montgomery Ward department store. According to the website, over the years, the museum has undergone significant expansions with the help of W. Jerome Frautschi, which has helped the museum become “a national leader in museum practices” that serves “a bigger audience in a learning playground.”

The Madison Children’s Museum is proud to be a shining example of going green. The first LEED-Certified museum in Wisconsin, MCM works, according to its website, “locally and sustainably in all aspects of project development,” including work with local talent and materials. Much of the building’s materials are local, recycled, organic, and/or donated while remaining of low-embodied energy.

The café food is fresh, locally-sourced, and seasonal, and benches throughout the museum were made by University of Wisconsin-Madison woodworking students and professors. Several other aspects of MCM, from the entrance to the windows and much in between, are examples of environmentally-friendly and natural materials that were locally-sourced.

The Museum maintains exhibits that are sure to entertain children. Jonathan Zarov, Director of Marketing and Communications, says that one of the most popular exhibits is the Rooftop Ramble. This is largely due to the chickens there: “It’s surprising to find them in the middle of downtown, in their lush green home.” Kids can see how the pond and greenery respond to the seasons, climb the Acorn Climber, or visit the clubhouse to visit the reptiles and rodents. The Ramble and the Urb garden, another popular attraction, are great models of “how urban agriculture can thrive in small spaces.”

MCM also holds events often, such as the PJ Party or the Mad Hatter Tea Party. The Tea Party is fun-filled with the chance for kids to meet real hornworm caterpillars in the Rooftop Clubhouse. They can make wacky head-toppers for the Mad Hatter Parade, learn dance moves, and, of course, enjoy tea and treats. On the first Wednesday of each month, the Museum also holds a Free Family Night.

From bright colors to fiberglass cows, there are enough fun and educational exhibits to keep any child entertained at the Madison Children’s Museum. And with all the natural materials that largely remain local, Zarov is spot-on when he says the Museum “is very much by and for Madison!”

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