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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The Lunchbox
Our Pay-What-You-Can Cafe

Madison Children’s Museum offers an in-house cafe with a sustainable, community-focused twist.

Located just inside the entrance, on the 1st floor of the museum, the MCM Lunchbox cafe offers meals and snacks to all visitors on a pay-what-you-can basis.

How it works

  • Choose from any of the meals or snacks stored in a self-serve cooler.
  • Warm up your meals (if needed). Instructions for microwave times are included on the meal label. (Please be cautious when opening the meals as food can be hot. You may need to let it rest for a minute before it’s cool enough for kids.)
  • Pay for your meal using the payment tablet or the cash box. There are intentionally no prices marked. It’s ok to pay nothing, a little, or a lot.
  • Eat and enjoy!
  • Clear your own table, disposing of waste in the marked cans. Wipe down your table and clean up any spills on the chairs or floor.

What is “pay what you can?”

“Pay what you can” is exactly what it sounds like. There are no prices—not even suggested prices—on any of the food. When you check out, please pay what you can afford. It’s ok to pay nothing, a little, or a lot.

The pay stations accept credit cards, debit cards, and Apple Pay. There is also a box for cash payments.

If you can pay a little more, please do so. It helps sustain the cafe overall. If you can’t pay much, please eat. Everyone, and particularly every child, deserves delicious food to help them grow, play, and learn. Again, it’s ok to pay nothing, a little, or a lot.

About the cafe space

The Lunchbox was built to serve families, especially MCM visitors, but no one wanting a meal will be turned away.

You are also welcome to bring your own food from home and eat it in the cafe.

Everyone using the cafe contributes to helping keep the space welcoming and accessible for all. Please only use the tables and chairs while eating so that other families can also have a seat and eat. Please bus your own tray, wipe down your table with the supplies provided, and clean up any spills.

Guests not visiting the rest of the museum that day are welcome to purchase food from the cafe and to eat there, as long as there is space available for families with children.

Support the MCM Lunchbox

Because it’s ok to pay nothing, a little, or a lot in the cafe, Madison Children’s Museum relies upon the generosity of community members, companies, and foundations to support this program. Your gift helps ensure that we can keep the Lunchbox open, accessible, and stocked with healthy, nutritious meals available to everyone.

Major support is provided by

Jane Villa in honor of Deb Gilpin

Additional support is provided by

The Tamara D. Grigsby Office for Equity and Inclusion

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