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MCM Opens New Exhibit: Urb Garden

Madison Children’s Museum will open the Sensenbrenner Family Urb Garden on Thursday, August 8, the newest addition to the museum’s collection of exhibits focused on early childhood, hands-on outdoor play and learning experiences in the natural environment. Urb Garden furthers MCM’s commitment to providing healthy, sustainable, and whimsical play opportunities for our communities’ youngest learners and their families.

Urb Garden will be a compact, fully accessible, three-season outdoor exhibit and garden space connected to the museum’s existing early learning gallery, the Wildernest. Designed to meet developmental needs and support the healthy growth of children from birth through age five, Urb Garden will demonstrate that even small spaces in a dense urban environment offer many opportunities to connect young children with nature. Kids will build strong food foundations through planting, growing, harvesting, and composting.

Visitors can expect to watch worms turn food waste into rich compost, plant a seedling in a greenhouse-treehouse, monitor local weather conditions, watch mushrooms grow in a secret “under-garden”, observe the wild animals that share our downtown environment, and visit with celebrity critters on loan from the museum’s Rooftop Ramble. Urb Garden will also house kid-sized discovery tools in the Observation and Weather Stations to deepen observation and introduce new perspectives that challenge young children to consider their surroundings. 

“The outdoors is the very best learning environment for young children, we’re excited to help the museum’s youngest visitors develop a love of the outdoors,” said Madison Children’s Museum’s Early Learning Coordinator, Cheryl Dewelt. “I look forward to experiencing the greenhouse, raised beds, worm composting, aquaponics, and sensory rich exhibits through a child’s eyes when the garden opens.”

For adult visitors and downtown neighbors, the project offers a host of creative ideas for transforming a small, urban environment into an efficient, green space to grow great food and enjoy the wonders of nature.

Urb Garden will be unveiled during our special Backlot Bash event on August 8 from 4–7 p.m., celebrating the exhibit’s grand opening and introducing our new Executive Director, Deb Gilpin.

Madison Children’s Museum was built with a commitment to the environment and hopes to become the first LEED-certified museum in Madison. Many elements of the museum are constructed from reclaimed and recycled materials, or natural materials from within 100 miles of Madison, including the Wildernest exhibit which is built out of non-toxic, natural materials, stone, straw clay, and sustainably harvested, local hardwoods. The museum recently won both the National Medal for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Promising Practices Award from the Association of Children’s Museums for its commitment to sustainability and the local community.

Urb Garden is made possible through support from the Sensenbrenner Family, the Association of Children’s Museums Going Wild Initiative on behalf of the Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of Fidelity Charitable, a generous bequest of the estate of Bonnie Berman, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Madison Children’s Museum: Founded in 1980, Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is an award-winning organization whose hands-on exhibits and programs celebrate and encourage children’s imaginations and the power of play as the cornerstone of learning. MCM is a proud recipient of the 2011 National Medal for Museum Service form the Institute of Museum and Library Services. To learn more about MCM, including a fact sheet and detailed exhibit descriptions, please visit our Newsroom page. To download photos for media use, please visit our Flickr page.

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