The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) had quite a year in 2016 and is looking forward to a busy 2017. Many changes took place in 2016 including a new Pierce Fire Truck, renovated Thrivent Mutual Funds Water Gallery (including a new water table), renovated Gulfstream Aircraft and the addition of a Building Block Wall in Construction Junction. The exhibit renovations also take into consideration kids of differing abilities, making it easier for everyone to come play. And those are just some of the most noticeable changes.
The BFKCM has added new and exciting programs to their line-up including Busy Bees, an interactive program that incorporates elements of science to the hands-on activities; Suzuki, which uses the Suzuki method to encourage different skills and concept development and Big Arts in the Little Apple, which helped inspire visual arts and music appreciation in the Appleton School District. Existing programs like Puddle Jumpers, Storybook Stars, Spectrum Saturday and SPARK! have seen an increase in programs, expanded content and increased attendance.
Thanks to community support, the BFKCM hosted more free and reduced admission days than ever before. This allowed almost 8,000 visitors to enjoy the Museum that might not have otherwise done so.
All of these changes helped the BFKCM see an increase in attendance and memberships. Looking forward to 2017, the BFKCM is planning on more of the same. Which means anything but.
“The Museum had an excellent year in 2016,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director of the BFKCM. “And we are planning an even better 2017. We take the commitment to our community very seriously. Whether through programs and events, new and exciting exhibits or different partnerships, we want to serve our community in the best way possible.”
The BFKCM will be closed for its annual maintenance in September 2017 and there are already exhibits on the schedule for renovations including the Boldt Crane in Construction Junction, Huggies Happy Baby Garden, Kwik Trip, Move It by AZCO and the Renewable Energy House. The Gulfstream Aircraft will be going through stage two of its renovation that will see the addition of flight simulators to the exhibit. Some renovations will be minor, updating the space and adding some new elements. But some will be major, with the exhibits being completely reimagined and redesigned.
“We don’t want to get to a place where the Museum feels stagnant,” said Michael Wartgow, Chief Operating Officer for the BFKCM. “Some of our exhibits, especially new ones, take months, if not a year or longer to go from concept to completion. We always want to make sure that we give enough time for the creative process.”
Programs currently in development for 2017 include art classes, summer camps and more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programming. Also in the beginning stages of development is a STEM Lab, which will include space for kids to try different scientific and engineering experiments, as well as have classes and programs.
As for events, February will bring the first Adult Recess, an event crafted to give the adults a little play time. Each of the quarterly events will have a different theme and activities. The first in the series is a 1920’s Casino Night on February 10. Adult Recess is a great way to introduce the BFKCM to adults that might not otherwise have a reason for visiting, or to give parents some time to play without having to share with their kids.
Pete the Cat will be visiting on March 30 and 31 for Pete’s Pizza Party. Kids can come and enjoy story time, activities and pizza with Pete. This is one of several events that the BFKCM has held outside their regular admission hours. Surveys of Members and the community found people were looking for more programs in the evening. This led the Museum to have more late closings and after hours programming.
All this leads into the 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 4, 2017. The BFKCM will be asking the community to help them prepare for this event by sharing photos and memories of the Museum. These will be collected and curated into an exhibit to highlight the anniversary, and create excitement for the future.
“We want the community to be involved in our 25th Anniversary Celebration,” said Bittner. “It is because of them that we were created, that we have been around this long and that we have been able to do the amazing things that we do. This is not just a Museum celebration, it’s a community celebration.”
After all this activity, what is left for 2018? Plans are already in the works for a traveling exhibit, renovations to the da Vinci Studio and more.