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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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Media Alert: Massive Climbing Sculpture to be installed on MCM Wonderground, 7/19 & 20

Madison Children’s Museum is constructing the Wonderground, a new 10,000-square-foot exhibit transforming the area that formerly housed a parking structure behind the building. On Monday and Tuesday the museum will receive and install its new climbing sculpture—the spectacular central feature of the exhibit. The climbing sculpture is a custom-designed, natural structure, comprising seven columns made out of 14 trees (two per column). It will be 22 feet tall and weigh about 20 tons. The climbing sculpture is made out of white oak,  black locust, steel, and recycled materials (firehoses, license plales, etc.). The installation requires operating a large crane in a relatively small space, and manipulating a large, heavy structure unlike any other. Lou Host-Jablonski of Design Coalition, the project architect, compared the operation to “planning a NASA landing.”

A few exhibit features are already installed on-site, including the historic Brand Log Cabin and a giant wooden bucket, set on its side. (The bucket is about the same size as the log cabin.)

The climbing sculpture will be installed on Monday, July 19, and Tuesday, July 20. The work window each day is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Media are welcome to arrive any time between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both days. Monday morning will offer particularly exciting views as the installation begins. Tuesday morning onward will reveal more of the structure, when the second half is installed. However, it’s very difficult to predict how long any aspect of the installation will take, or when it will happen over the two days. Media can contact Jonathan Zarov at (608) 335-2783 with any questions or special needs, or simply arrive at the loading dock behind the museum on the Pinckney Street side. The loading dock is the primary spot for media coverage. Staff can also help arrange access to the Rooftop Ramble and vantage points inside the museum. The museum has no on-site or reserved parking to offer.

The Wondergound is scheduled to open in mid September, when children will first scale the climbing sculpture’s branches and scramble below. Construction began with a groundbreaking on April 22, 2021.
The climber was designed and built by: Acme IronworksDesign Coalition, Hefty Construction, Roald Gunderson, Super G Construction, Whole Tree Structures, and Madison Children’s Museum staff. All of those contractors—and more—will be on site to facilitate the installation. J.H Findorff & Son, Inc., demolished the former parking lot and constructed the foundation and infrastructure for the exhibit.
Recovery from the pandemic and the return to downtown and former activities will continue to be a slow process through the fall, with a continued emphasis on outdoor activities, increasing the need for an outdoor exhibit.This new exhibit will provide a safe place for all children to play, to come together once again from all neighborhoods. The exhibit will provide a fun, healthy outlet for getting young bodies in motion; a nurturing space where children can experience the healing power of play after a rough year-plus; and a cultural anchor that draws families back to the square and the surrounding downtown.

Wonderground logo: Word Wonderground in fanciful type, in natural greens, brown, and teal


  • Connects children with their families, their community and the world beyond through creative learning and discovery play
  • Strives to make all families feel welcome, valued, and included by living the ideals of Access, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Is a community hub for children and families from every corner of Madison, and serves more than 200,000 visitors per year
  • Is a community partner and gateway for families to access and participate in other cultural institutions and community programs
Founded in 1980, the museum’s hands-on exhibits and programs celebrate and encourage children’s imagination and the power of play as cornerstones of learning. The museum is a proud recipient of the 2011 National Medal for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It is an independent, nonprofit organization. To learn more, visit, and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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