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The Madison Children’s Museum is open again and serving families looking for a delightful play area that comes with so much more! “Well, we’re not just open, we’ve opened the Wonderground,” said President and CEO Deborah Gilpin.
The Children’s Museum up-cycled a defunct former parking lot area into an awe-inspiring new four-seasons, outdoor play space that welcomed its first real guests over the weekend. The Wonderground adds 10,000 square feet of new play area to the museum, designed for play in all its forms. The space is designed as a work in progress, with additional features being added in 2022 and temporary exhibits cycling through so that there is always something new.
“It’s very physical, with a lot of active play, climbing, sliding, stretching, and reaching over, but it’s also risk taking and looking for friends. We know that building social skills is so critical and it comes from doing things with people we don’t know and that’s happening a lot out there,” said Gilpin.
The entire space is made using local, natural materials in conjunction with largely upcycled materials, objects, and artifacts, and created by MCM staff and artists from the community.
Here’s a look at what you’ll find:
The Thicket climbing sculpture – A 23-foot-tall climbing sculpture takes center stage, weaving together natural structural wood elements into a playful new adventure. The climber will test kids’ agility, strength, risk assessment, and climbing prowess while increasing their connection to each other as helpers and friends. Below the Thicket is an Understory area for additional imaginative play.
Cocoon Climber – Even kids too small to clamber up the thicket get their own natural climbing and exploration zone. Little kids can build their balance and proprioception along a series of climbable natural tree structures and other obstacles designed to stimulate their senses and practice coordination.
The Orchard, Cabin Yard & Gardens – The museum’s historic 1830s cabin returns, now relocated onto a small knoll overlooking the rest of the exhibit space planted with native vegetables, fruits, and grasses. The cabin area includes artifacts for historical exploration, educational programs with food and urban gardening, and a quieter resting area.
The Down Under – Protected from the elements by the museum’s sch
ool-group entrance above, we’re creating a larger gathering space for rest, respite, and special programs. Beautiful mosaic columns will give the space a magical, imaginative feel.
Small mini-exhibits from MCM’s past are planned to rotate throughout the space.
“We also have these challenges of scale. We have a giant bucket that just makes you say, ‘Wow, this is so different from anything else I’ve seen.’ And for kids the world is like that, but for adults that’s kind of mind blowing so we really are enjoying how adults are exploring the space, too,” said Gilpin.
Entrance to the Wonderground is included with admission to the museum and it’s open year round. To get tickets or learn more visit https://madisonchildrensmuseum.org/