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.

Visit the Museum 608.256.6445 Find Us

From Coops to Cathedrals exhibit inspires kids to experiment and create – like the young Frank Lloyd Wright

Media Contact: Jonathan Zarov, director of marketing (608) 354-0149, (608) 335-2783

Madison, Wis.– Madison Children’s Museum will open a major new exhibit to help celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday. From Coops to Cathedrals: Nature, Childhood, and the Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, aims to unleash the creative potential of young visitors.

The exhibit opens June 7 during Free Family Night. On the first open Wednesday night of each month, the entire community is invited to enjoy the museum for free from 5 to 8 p.m. The opening celebration includes a ribbon-cutting at 5:15 p.m., drop-in activities throughout the museum, and birthday cake, from Carl’s Cakes, at 7 p.m.

In fun, whimsical, and hands-on ways, the exhibit challenges children to dive into nature, experiment with materials, design their own contraptions—from iceboats to bridges—and build their own models. All these activities helped Frank Lloyd Wright become one of the most creative forces of his time. Though most of the kids visiting From Coops to Cathedrals won’t become world-famous architects, they will come away with increased confidence in their creativity, and a better understanding of how nature inspires so much of what humans design.

The exhibit includes three immersive environments: Frank’s childhood attic bedroom, his farm and outdoor life in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Mr. Wright’s architecture studio.

Children will be immersed into what life was like in Wisconsin nearly a century and a half ago. They’ll test iceboats, use Frank’s printing press, create designs with Froebel blocks, and listen to his father’s music in his childhood bedroom. They will work on the farm – building limestone walls, designing a chicken coop, gathering and sorting eggs, and feeding and watering the chickens and a calf. In the architecture studio – which includes replicas of Mr. Wright’s tables, chairs, and benches – kids will work at a drafting table using templates, and complete a stained glass window puzzle using a grid and pieces of transparent glass.

Kids will learn the value of exploring nature and experimentation, which shaped Frank Lloyd Wright’s lifetime of work. Those perspectives remain essential and instructive today, and will teach young visitors that the tools to solve problems may be as close as the nearest stream or tree. A variety of activities throughout the exhibit playfully explore themes of harmony with nature, light, space, balance, materials, shapes, and patterns.

Frank Lloyd Wright famously said “Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.” That quote is one of the artful “alphabet quotes” installed throughout the museum. Fittingly, the Wright quote is attached to the chicken coop – full of lively chickens – on the museum’s rooftop. Kids will be inspired to design both a chicken coop and a cathedral.

This is the largest and most substantial new indoor exhibit to be installed in the museum since it moved to its “forever home” at 100 North Hamilton in 2010. The day after the opening party is June 8, which marks Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday. In creating this exhibit, the museum has partnered with a number of organizations, such as Taliesin Preservation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, to help honor one of Wisconsin’s most influential citizens and join the national celebration.

A number of hands-on programs and activities are planned for opening week and beyond.

Opening Week: The following are drop-in programs—free with admission, no registration required. More details can be found on the website.

Wednesday, June 7
Free Family Night, free admission, 5–8 p.m.

  • Ribbon-cutting, 5:15 p.m.
  • Community Concourse: Birthday Cake, 7 p.m.
  • 5:30–7:30 p.m.
    • Art Studio: Pattern Sewing Cards
    • Rooftop Clubhouse: Stained Glass Rubbings
    • Log Cabin: “Frankly Building” with Lincoln Logs

Thursday, June 8
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday!

  • Rooftop Clubhouse: Architectural 3-D Structures, 11 a.m.–noon
  • Celebrations Room: Birthday Cake, 1:30 p.m.
  • Log Cabin: Recognizing Shapes in Nature, 2–4 p.m.

Friday, June 9

  • Possible-opolis: Printing Press, 10–11 a.m.
  • Log Cabin: “Frankly Building” with Lincoln Logs, 11 a.m.–noon
  • Rooftop Ramble: Abstract Drawing from Nature, 1–3 p.m.
  • Log Cabin: Frontier Science, 2–4 p.m.

Saturday, June 10

  • Rooftop Ramble: Kite-Making, 10 a.m.–12 p.m.
  • Rooftop Ramble: Architecture Yoga, 10:30–11 a.m.
  • Log Cabin: Cabin Cooking: Mr. Wright’s Steel Cut Oats, noon–2 p.m.
  • Log Cabin: Frontier Crafts, 3–4 p.m.

More detailed descriptions, age recommendations, and exhibit-related programs beyond opening week can be found on the MCM web calendar.

Major support provided by Dan & Natalie Erdman, Eliot Butler and the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co., and J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.

Generous funding provided by Darcy Kind & Marc Vitale; Francesca Moore Colver & Martin Colver; Future Foam; and Dane Arts with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of the Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.

This exhibit was developed in partnership with Taliesin Preservation, Inc. and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. The exhibit would not have been possible without the work of lead scholar Virginia Terry Boyd, and the generous support of both organizations and their talented staff, especially Carrie Rodamaker, Caroline Hamblen, Stuart Graff, Margo Stipe, Jim Erickson, Ryan Hewson, and Erik Flesch. Special thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Chazen Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mark Hertzberg, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Mary Jane Hamilton, David Mollenhoff, Dino Maniaci, and the Madison Public Library for additional images or drawings.

© 2024 Madison Children's Museum | Privacy Policy
Madison Children's Museum