Local businesses join forces to help reopen & expand the Madison Children’s Museum by summer

MADISON, Wis.– The Madison Children’s Museum consistently ranks among the top in the country, yet it’s remained closed for a full year, since March 2020. That likely won’t be the case for much longer.

“I think of young children as this mix of ingredients that have so much potential,” explained Deb Gilpin, the Madison Children’s Museum president. “We mix them in a certain way, we nurture them, and we have patience about what they’re going to become.”

Gilpin’s passion for nurturing future generations of children is part of what compelled her to shutter the museum when the pandemic hit. She said the past year has taught many families the safest place to play is often outside. Since 1980, the museum has given generations of children a safe place to play indoors, but soon, what it’s able to offer will change.

“We know outside play is critical for children’s development: getting along, taking risks, trying new things. There are many lessons learned outdoors,” Gilpin added.

Right now, Gilpin is working to raise $4 million to fund a new outdoor active space at the museum, with a targeted opening date of August. The “Our Future in Play” addition will include places to climb and a performance venue, in addition to the museum’s 200-year-old log cabin, which was temporarily relocated to make way for construction.

This weekend, Gilpin received some fundraising help. Stella’s Bakery and Karben 4 Brewing donated a portion of their pre-Pi Day sales to the project.

“As long as we’re trying to drum up some business for us, why not help out some charities?” said Jason Harder, head baker at Stella’s.

“The Madison Children’s Museum isn’t just for kids,” Meena DeFilippis, Director of Operations at Karben, added. DeFilippis has been enjoying ‘Adult Swim’ nights at the museum since she was in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After having her first baby during the pandemic, reopening the museum has added importance.

“I’m excited to bring my son there someday soon,” she said.

Although the Madison Children’s Museum remains temporarily closed, families can still take advantage of its ‘MCM At Home’ programs. Click here for a full list of online offerings.