The Children’s Museum of Phoenix

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Here is the complete interview with Marion Wiener, Marketing Manager, The Children’s Museum of Phoenix

  • When did the idea of a Children’s Museum in Phoenix first develop? 

The idea for a Children’s Museum in Phoenix was born by two couples, driving back to Phoenix on a hot summer day from a vacation in San Diego.  There they and their children had experienced the joy of the Children’s Museum of San Diego (now called the New Children’s Museum)…and as they were discussing the fun they had had at the Museum, the inevitable conclusion was reached… “we should have a children’s museum in Phoenix!”  The year was 1998, a small group of volunteers was put together and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix was founded as the Phoenix Family Museum.  In 2001, Phoenix voters overwhelmingly approved $10.5 million in bond funds to purchase and partially renovate the historic Monroe School as the Museum’s new home.

In 2005, Deborah Gilpin became President & CEO and began the plans for the renovation and restoration of the Monroe School building, developing a strong support base among private individuals and corporations and providing the type of inspirational and diverse programming to make a wonder-filled museum. The Museum launched its Childhood Dreams Built By You capital campaign with a goal of raising $12.3 million prior to opening. In December of that year the Phoenix Family Museum officially changed its name to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix to more clearly convey the museum’s focus.

Renovation on the Monroe School began in 2006 and the Children’s Museum opened its doors to the public on June 14, 2008.

Prior to opening the permanent facility, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix fulfilled its mission to engage the minds, muscles, and imaginations of children through its traveling exhibit program — Museum Without Walls (MWW). Consisting of eight hands-on learning experiences, MWW visited schools and community events across the Valley. Over 275,000 participants have taken part in MWW traveling exhibits since 1998.

The community has been and continues to be enormously supportive.

  • The Museum is amazing…as a mother of small children (2 and 4)…I just love everything about it (as I imagine most people feel the same way!)  I have never been to a Children’s Museum like this – what has been the overall consensus by the public?  

The consensus has been that the Museum is awesome!  Parents and caregivers tell us repeatedly how much fun their children (and they!)  have at the Museum.  The proof is in the number of people that we have welcomed in the six months since opening (110,000+) and the number of members we currently have (5,000+). 

  • I love your about us page..the description is great and very, very accurate!  Each time we spend time at the museum, I definitely feel that my children have had a great time and learned something!  You haven’t even reached your one year mark – and each time we come in, there is a new exhibit – how much growth is still left to go?  Where does the museum see itself on its 5th anniversary?

Although from time to time we will add a few new “pieces” to the Museum (have you seen the musical tree in the Room for Under Threes?), the biggest change will come later this year when we begin building our 3-story Climber which will be the centerpiece of the first floor Atrium space (currently where Whoosh!, the colorful tunnels and legways live). The Climber will be unlike anything else in the Valley.  Think Dr. Suess and you may get an idea of the uniqueness of the exhibit. J  It will reach all the way up to the 3rd floor where Noodle Forest and the Book Loft are.  And there will be two more exhibits added to the Atrium around the Climber….10,000 Blocks and Building Bigboth of which will be positioned on the wall opposite the existing Whoosh! exhibit. 

  • What is your favorite exhibit?  What’s your favorite thing about the museum?  

I don’t really have a favorite exhibit because I love them all for different reasons.  I love Noodle Forest because it’s so fun in there and the kids just love it so!  They get totally immersed in this highly sensory experience and the giggles and laughter that you hear when you are in the Forest and standing outside is the best fun there is.  The Book Loft is my favorite quiet place. I love books and this is just such a peaceful area of the Museum where kids and their parents/caregivers can spend some time reading and relaxing.  And then there’s Whoosh! Watching the kids switching the air flow to make the scarves go where they want it to go shows me that they are learning something about how you can affect air to make it do something specific.   

My favorite thing about the Museum is the fact that we are providing such an engaging, exciting and fun educational experience for children and that we have met a really important need in our community.  Plus, I get to come to work everyday and hear the laughter and happiness of children while I work. Lastly, my six year old twin girls think their Mom is the coolest since they get to come here whenever they want!

  • The birthday parties are so much fun…I imagine they are a huge hit?  What age group are they most suited for?  If you could tell us one thing about the parties – what would you mention?

The birthday parties are a big hit.  We’ve had parties here for a wide range of age groups.  The majority of our parties have been for 2 to 6 year olds but we have had a few for 8 and 9 year olds.  The thing I would mention about the parties is that all of our party options come with Museum playtime PLUS the birthday child gets a special “I Partied at the Children’s Museum” T-shirt! Really cute!

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Things to know about the museum:

Birthday Parties are amazing – our daughter had her 4th birthday at the Museum – the kids had so much fun

The Common Sense Green Initiative

What a great deal being a member is!



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