Did you know the first Children’s Museum in the United States opened in 1899!
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum (1899), followed closely by Boston Children’s Museum (1913), Detroit Children’s Museum (1917) and in 1925 The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opened their doors. These four inaugural heavy weights helped pave the way for the now, more than 340 children’s museums spread out in 23 countries. The world of children’s museums is rich in history, community, and education.
From the very beginning Children’s Museums have helped bridged the gap between children’s schooling and their education outside of the classroom. Early on, Brooklyn Children’s Museum encouraged teachers to use them and their resources as part of the educational plan during children’s schooling within the classroom as well as inside the museum walls.
The Boston Children’s Museum offered children access to natural history and as well as creating a historical collection. In partnership with members from the Boston’s Science Teacher’s Bureau, this collection of natural history objects could be used in public school classrooms to bring children hands on learning and experiences. Fast forward more than one hundred years later and our dedicated and creative educators pack up one of our three vans with circuits, animal pelts and skulls from the PNW, plus many other activities that are taught to children in classrooms all across the Puget Sound Region.
How fantastic to know that our current outreach programs are one small piece of the history of Children’s Museums that dates back more than a century ago!
While Children’s Museums have, and continue to use their resources for outreach in the community, the museums themselves provide the balance children need in their schooling. This is explained perfectly by Gertrude A. Gillmore, a supervising teacher of the Martindale Normal School, who was appointed curator at the Detroit Children’s Museum when it opened in 1917. She stated the museum’s purpose would be “two-fold: to loan illustrative material to the schools and to attract the children to the Museum through monthly exhibits appealing directly to their interests.” Children’s Museums are a space designed FOR children where they are given the opportunity to play, learn, and grow inside a space they will thrive in.
Children’s Museums have an expansive history but are also constantly looking ahead to the possibilities the future will hold. As educational techniques and guidelines change, so do we. KidsQuest will continue to be an educational resource for all, while creating an environment for learning through the power of play and exploration! We strive to be a space where children, families, teachers, and schools can experience the love of learning through play, while shedding a light on the past that guided us here.
Next time we’ll dive into “How do we play in a Children’s Museum?”