Lincoln Children's Museum invites children to create, discover and learn through the power of play.
Build, dance, play, climb, create, sing, and laugh at the Lincoln Children's Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Here you can be whatever and go wherever your imagination takes you! The Lincoln Children's Museum offers three floors and 23,300 square feet of hands-on exhibits and imaginative programs that allow children and adults to discover the adventure of learning through play together.
Play is every child’s most important job. It is how they learn to work with other people and to engage their sense of creativity. With your support, we can contribute to building a stronger community by providing opportunities to children to experience the power of play, and in turn, discover something new about themselves and the world in which they live.
The Museum is a member of the Association of Children's Museums (ACM). During your travels, the Lincoln Children's Museum encourages you to visit other children's museums throughout the country.
Lincoln Children's Museum is a private non-profit, 501(c)(3), that receives no city, state or federal tax dollars. The Museum's Board of Directors sets policies and oversees operations.
The Lincoln Children's Museum was created by a group of active, committed parents and educators who had visions of Nebraska children learning through exploration and discovery. After incorporating in 1987, the founders introduced the concept of a hands-on learning museum in August, 1988 at a 10-day "Sights and Sounds" exhibit at the state fairgrounds which attracted 10,000 children and adults.
With start-up grants from three local foundations, the permanent Museum opened on December 2, 1989. A dozen simple, handcrafted exhibits filled 7,500 square feet of leased space in the Atrium in downtown Lincoln, and 15,000 visitors came in the first year. From that grassroots start, the Museum's attendance and support grew steadily. The community replaced the early exhibits, one by one, and added better, more sophisticated ones.
In 1991 the Museum moved to its next location, occupying 15,000 square feet of a former downtown department store, 13th & O Streets. Annually, up to 80,000 people visited an often-full Museum. The Museum was now poised to take its services and exhibits to a new level in a new facility. In a short time, the Museum became a true community endeavor. The Lincoln Fire Department installed a cab from a retired fire engine where children role played as firefighters with real coats, helmets and hoses. The Lincoln Center Kiwanis Club and Junior League built a Lunar Lander where children became astronauts. Hy-Vee installed a child-size grocery store, with food, shopping carts, a scanner and cash register. The University of Nebraska Athletic Department helped build a room-sized football stadium that included the sounds of a cheering crowd, goal posts, and tests of skill.
In 1998, at the Museum's initiative, the City of Lincoln agreed to a partnership with the Museum contingent on passage of a city bond issue and successful private capital fund drive. In May, 1998, responding to an active campaign by the Museum, Lincoln voters solidly endorsed a new Lincoln Children's Museum and approved a $1.9 million city bond issue to help buy and renovate the new site. The Museum organized and managed a public capital campaign and successfully raised an additional $4.1 million to complete the new $6 million Museum. In this partnership, the city owns the 72,000 square foot building, which was totally renovated at the Museum's expense and leased to the Museum for a nominal fee. The Museum occupies 45,500 square feet and uses the remaining space for educational programming.
The Lincoln Children's Museum was constructed as the first green building in the city of Lincoln. The Museum incorporated these green building principles into the design and renovation of the facility. These green building principles include minimizing the amount of waste generated during construction, recycling materials that could be separated from the construction waste stream, using recycled content building materials where feasible, and using best management practices regarding energy and water conservation.