A lot of giggles, memories and milestones can happen in 25 years, and The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) is celebrating them all! It is not just a celebration for the BFKCM, but for the community that created and supports it. Throughout the year several exciting events and additions will take place, including the 25th Birthday Celebration and the first expansion in over 10 years.
On November 4, the BFKCM will be throwing a birthday party like no other. The event, which goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will include the unveiling of the new Innovation Lab, a chance for adults to check out the BFKCM and play on the exhibits, highlights from programs and more. Guest must be 21 or older, but a kid at heart. Tickets are $10 a person, or two for $15 and available on the BFKCM website.
And the day after is for the kids! STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Free Day, supported by Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, is November 5 from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. (10 a.m. – 12 p.m. is Members only). Part of the Wisconsin Science Festival, this free admission day will let kids investigate different interactive STEM activities and programming, including a visit by Professor Gizmo. Plus they can check out the newly opened Innovation Lab.
The BFKCM’s first addition in over 10 years, the Innovation Lab, is a space for kids and their adults to explore STEM. Details will be released weekly about the Lab on social media and the BFKCM website, with the final unveil on November 4 at the 25th Birthday Celebration. The Innovation Lab expansion is possible because of support from the Bemis Company, Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, The Boldt Company, Great Northern Corporation, Neenah Foundry, Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation, Secura Insurance, Miller Electric Manufacturing Company, Plexus Corp., Hartwig Family Foundation, School Specialty, US Venture, WE Energies Foundation, GEI Consultants, Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance and American Transmission Company.
The Innovation Lab is just one of the exciting things in progress for the 25th year. Six exhibits are currently in different stages of development, with all scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
- The Big Rig Garage, supported by L3 D.P. Associates and Schneider National, will be a garage like no other, complete with a semi truck driving simulator.
- Construction Junction, supported by The Boldt Company, will build off of the existing crane and add a truck and more building space and interactive construction activities.
- The da Vinci Studio will get an update, supported by School Specialty, which will include more ways for kids to express their creativity.
- Kwik Trip, supported by Kwik Trip, Inc., will be updated and incorporate more math, colors and shapes into the exhibit.
- Move It, supported by AZCO Inc., will see the addition of more simple machines fun.
- Happy Baby Garden, supported by Kimberly-Clark, will get a complete renovation, letting toddlers have around-the-world adventures in this specially created exhibit space for ages 0 – 3.
The planning for the 25th birthday started several years ago with the goal to have all of the existing exhibits renovated or updated for the anniversary year. The first addition happened in fall 2015 with the Fox Communities Credit Union’s Littlest Branch. Shortly after, the ThedaCare Physicians Doll Hospital was updated. In September 2016, the Gulfstream Aircraft, Pierce Fire Truck and Thrivent Mutual Funds Water Gallery exhibits re-opened after updates and renovations.
Because of the generous support of the community, by the end of 2018 over $2.5 million in updates, additions and renovations will have been completed at the BFKCM.
“The support we have received is an indicator of how important child development and family are in the community,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “As an organization, we would not be where we are without that support, including donations, volunteers and community partnerships.”
The BFKCM birthday is not just about creating interactive exhibits, but also hands-on, innovative programs and events. New programs will add more art and STEM-focused programming to the BFKCM program line-up, including studio time where kids will be able to use materials that might not otherwise be available to them. The 25th year will also see more and expanded events, including the 10th annual Children’s Parade.
Another focus of the BFKCM is continuing to remove financial barriers for families going through difficult times. Initiatives include Family Access Memberships and involvement in the Museums for All program with the Association of Children’s Museums. As well as grant programs for schools with high free and reduced lunch rates to visit the BFKCM for field trips and Discovery Classes. Outreach programs weekly visit community partners like Homeless Connections and Harbor House to bring hands-on learning to kids and families that are in times of crisis.
“As we look forward, the BFKCM will continue to be a resource for all families,” said Bittner. “We strive to create a space and programs where families can forget about the outside world for a bit and focus on the world of play. Somewhere that lets them create memories and form lasting bonds.”
More BFKCM exhibit announcements, programs and events will be listed throughout the year on social media and at buildingforkids.org.