A City and Its (Little) People
August 13, 2010 12:30 PM
On Saturday morning hundreds of kids will cut a very long ribbon to officially open the new Madison Children's Museum. The ribbon will be cut with blunt nosed scissors and no running with those scissors will be allowed.
From the chickens on the rooftop to the adult-sized hamster wheel on the second floor to the rickety and exciting (yet safe) suspension bridge, there is easily the better part of a day's fun and accidental education for kids of all ages, even if like me your age happens to be 51. Everything in the museum is made or recycled from local sources and every crafts person who worked on the project, except one, is from our area. So, the place is infused with Madison and Wisconsin. It makes you proud to be a Midwesterner and, who knows, maybe it will inculcate a love of the Midwest in kids who will one day fiercely resist the siren song of the coasts and build their lives and fortunes (and ours) right here at home.
Throughout the museum there are various quotes on the walls. One is from Shakespeare: "What is a city but its people?" Madison has been long recognized as a great place to raise kids. We vote for school referenda, we push for safe routes to school programs and traffic calming measures to make our streets safer, we pay for after school programs and activities for kids in our parks and libraries, we have a state-of-the-art Children's Hospital, we fund a really nice community pool and more. In fact, Men's Health Magazine just rated Madison the safest place in the country for children: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_2affeb08-a678-11df-a8d9-001cc4c002e0.html.
There is some city money invested in the Children's Museum in the form of a facade grant and some infrastructure improvements in front of the building. But most of the $15 million or so that made it possible came from private donors. And it came in the midst of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. If a city is defined by the people who live or work in it, then Madison is a very special place.
If you'd like to have your family join in the fun of the grand opening, it takes place at 9:30a.m. on Saturday at the Museum located on the corner of North Hamilton Street and the Capitol Square. Every paid admission Saturday and Sunday will receive a token for a free return visit. You can watch my interview with museum director Ruth Shelly at http://www.cityofmadison.com/mcc12/streaming.html#streampublic or learn more about the museum by visiting their website at http://www.madisonchildrensmuseum.org/.