News & Events - Press Releases

8. Madison Children’s Museum

Press Contact: Amy Mertz,
608.256.6445, ext. 539; 608.576.8296 (cell)

Web Site:

Photo of two young children closely examining a chicken in the rooftop garden.
Left to right: Director Ruth Shelly, Cokie Roberts, Community Member Benjamin Perreth, and Susan Hildreth. Click image to access full-size version.

From its origins in a small basement facility, Madison Children’s Museum has grown to fill a 56,00- square-foot building with more than 122,000 visitors each year. In an overscheduled world, children, parents, and caregivers can take part in open-ended play, a freewheeling experience that creates intergenerational conversations, provides fertile ground for learning, and sparks the imagination in sometimes unpredictable but always delightful ways. With a commitment to using local resources, products, and people, the museum attracted 15,000 volunteers who donated time, money, and objects to enhance the museum’s exhibits. The museum was built for and with the community and, through an environmentally responsible approach, anticipates being the first LEED-certified museum in Wisconsin. Through its Family Access Program, it opens the museum and its resources to families who could not otherwise afford to visit, and through programs designed to involve minority groups, the museum is helping residents bridge cultural and ethnic divides.

Community Member; Benjamin Perreth
Benjamin Perreth’s life was turned upside-down when, at age 7, this healthy, active child had a brain hemorrhage. He had to learn how to walk and talk again, had brain radiation twice, and had several major surgeries. He also developed mental illness. But as Ben says, "I’m still here!" After high school, the Madison Children’s Museum became a lifesaver for him. At first, MCM gave Ben a volunteer job as a one-handed juggler. He juggled off-site for kids and their families; some were like Ben, having special needs. Then after a year of volunteer work, Ben was hired as a Visitor Services Associate. He calls it a dream job come true. Ben says he wants to make life better for people with disabilities and mental illness. Working at the museum has fulfilled his dream because he can use his juggling and thespian skills. MCM welcomed Ben in, and allows him a way to help others smile and find happiness.

U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D_WI_02), who nominated the Madison Children’s Museum:
"I’m very proud to have nominated the Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) for the 2011 National Medal for Museum Service and delighted that MCM is one of five recipients in the entire country. MCM has a long and proud history of serving the children of Madison, Dane County, and our entire state. Its exhibits and programs engage and educate young and old alike. MCM is a model for other museums and truly deserving of this honor."

Next Winner: San José Public Library