Sun Prairie’s children’s museum aims to open in fall 2021
Despite challenges in 2020, Explore Children’s Museum pushes forward.
The team at the Explore Children’s Museum of Sun Prairie had big plans in 2020 — they hoped to launch two traveling exhibits by the fall and get the nonprofit off the ground. Then COVID-19 hit.
Explore Children’s Museum would be the first children’s museum in Sun Prairie that aims to give kids a chance to learn and explore in a very hands-on way. Currently, the museum does not have a location, but despite the changing timeline due to COVID-19 aims to open in fall 2021. Co-founder Katey Kamoku says the goal of Explore Children’s Museum is to create opportunities for adults and children to play a role in the learning process.
Kamoku says they are hoping to have exhibits for newborns to elementary school children — in the future they hope to add programming for older children.
“The exhibits will spark children’s imaginations, offer endless opportunities for self-directed play and create opportunities for learning that are developmentally appropriate and fun,” Kamoku says.
Of the seven board members, all are parents and four have a background in education. Kamoku has a master’s degree in special education and was a teacher at Sun Prairie High School.
“While the workload, time commitment and uncertainty of this project can be extremely overwhelming, the excitement I feel about bringing a children’s museum to our community is exhilarating and empowering,” says Kamoku. “As a teacher I know that children learn best through self-directed, open-ended, exploratory play and as a mom I know that families seek opportunities to engage their children in educationally rich environments.”
Hands-on means something a little different these days. After the exhibit cancellations in 2020, the board is focused on raising funds for a permanent home with permanent exhibits. As a nonprofit, the museum relies solely on donations and community support.
“2021 is going to be an extremely important fundraising year as we plan to secure a museum space, purchase exhibits and open our doors in the fall,” says Kamoku. “Early this year we will be working with our fundraising consultant to create relationships with businesses, individuals and families to establish partnerships that will benefit both Explore Children’s Museum and our donors.”
There will be a book sale in March, a Color Splash event in June and an Art in the City campaign this summer. With hopes of hosting a Badger Tailgate event.
Despite the remaining question marks, Kamoku and the rest of the board are looking forward to the new year.
“While the Board has changed the trajectory of our plans, we are still working to bring a fantastic children’s museum to Sun Prairie. In response to the changes, the Board worked diligently to make plans for museum awareness campaigns and fundraising activities in 2020 that were safe,” she says. “The events we held were a success and we look forward to building upon those successes in 2021.”
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