BFK News

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Starting January 1, 2019, there will be some changes in parking in downtown Appleton. The Blue Ramp, the one directly behind the BFK, will be closed. It will be demolished with construction scheduled to start in March. Along with this change, parking rates will increase in the ramps and for metered parking.

Parking is the top complaint we get from visitors. We know that walking a couple blocks with a stroller, diaper bag and toddlers is not at all the same as walking those couple blocks by yourself! And once we add in our beautiful winter weather and busy downtown streets, we have a new set of challenges. We have been trying to work with the City and other downtown organizations to come up with a family-friendly solution for parking. As a family focused organization, we want you and your family to feel safe and relaxed coming to visit! We will continue to pursue new solutions and make sure concerns are heard.

If you would like to talk to us about parking or any other concerns with the BFK, please call 920-734-3226 or email us!

Click here to see the downtown parking map with rates.

Click here to see the City of Appleton’s parking page with the most recent parking study. 


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Starting January 1, 2019, the daily admission and Membership prices will see a slight increase at the BFK. This increase is do to rising overhead costs and expenses, and not any updates or new exhibits (which were all supported through generous community members and organizations). If you have questions about our financials, we do an annual Community Report that gives an overview of our expenses and revenue. We also post our most recent financial audits on our website. As a not-for-profit, it is important for us to have complete transparency for our supporters and community members!

Click here to check out our Community Reports or financial audit.

Memberships as of January 1, 2019

  • $90 – Dual Membership: one named child and an unnamed adult.
  • $140 – Family Membership: Up to two named adults and their children under 18, all in the same household. This will now include all the benefits of Explorer Membership which will include discounts at museums all over the country.
    • Educator, Foster and Military will no longer have separate Memberships, but a 25% discount on the Family Membership – making the Memberships $105.
  • $20 – Family Access Membership: Up to two named adults and their children under 18, all in the same household. Part of our Access for All initiative, this grant program is for families going through financial hardships.
  • $100 – Grandparent: Up to two named grandparents in the same household and all their grandchildren.
  • $20 – Guest Add-on: One unnamed guest per visit. Cannot be added to Grandparent or Family Access Memberships.

Click here for more information on Memberships!

Daily Admission as of January 1, 2019

  • $8 – ages 1 – 64 (kids under 12 months are free)
  • $7 – ages 65 & up
  • $6 – Military discount (with valid ID, active or retired)
  • $2 – Access Admission. Part of our Access for All initiative, this grant program is for families going through financial hardships.

Click here for more information about daily admissions!

If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know! 

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Every adult wants the kids in their lives to be healthy. One of the things that make healthy kids? Play!

A report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in late summer outlined not only the need for play in healthy child development but also ways that pediatricians can encourage play in their patients. Benefits from play include encouraging language and creative thinking, increase in social skills (like paying attention, solving disputes and focusing on tasks), problem-solving skills and collaboration.

Play not only is a health benefit for kids, but also for adults! Play can bring the joy of adults’ own childhood experiences back, help them see the world from a child’s perspective and encourage better communication between adult and child. It can also increase adult-child relationships and even reduce parental stress! Plus, it’s fun!

The Children’s Museums of Wisconsin (did you know there are 14 in the state!) completely agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is monumental importance in play. So why not make time for a playdate – doctors orders!


Check out the complete AAP article, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children


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If you haven’t made time to explore at the BFK lately, now’s the time!

This fall we are wrapping up around $2.5 million, and three years, worth of updates and renovations! Some changes have been small like coats of paint to refresh our look, and some have been large like the first expansion in 11 years with the creation of the Innovation Lab. Each change was made with our guests and community in mind!

Here is what we are finishing up this fall:

The Amazing Heart Slide 

A new coat of paint and a new location. 











Babies & Toddlers Around the World 

Formally Happy Baby Garden – this complete redo was supported by Huggies & Pull-Ups.






Big Rig Depot

We moved the Doll Hospital and gift shop to create this new exhibit! This edition was supported by Schneider.

Still coming – semi-truck driving simulator from L3 D.P. Associates.





Construction Junction

Our construction site was reimagined to add more elements of social play. Now the blocks can be moved from the pit to the build site and back to the pit! This update was supported by The Boldt Company.






da Vinci Studio 

New floors, cabinets, tables and sinks! Thanks to the support of School Specialty.









Discovery Tree 

New netting! Supported by Pucuda Inc. on behalf of John and Teru Whitman Rexroad and the descendants of Mr. & Mrs. J.R. Whitman Sr.


Kwik Trip

We added new registers and new carpet. This update was supported by Kwik Trip.


Nursing Nook & Quiet Space

New floors.


ThedaCare Physicians Doll Hospital

This space was moved to help create more space for exhibits. Thank you to ThedaCare for supporting our hospital!



Facade and logo Update

Plus, we gave the front of the building a bit of a facelift!

Still coming, our new electronic signs!








All our updates have been supported through grants and donations. We are so thankful to our generous community who made our renovations possible! And those community members that helped shape our exhibits by giving input, and those who gave time to help us complete the task!

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This September, the Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) will finish up it’s three-year, 2.5 million dollar exhibit update goal. From September 3 – 24 the BFKCM will be closed for maintenance and exhibit updates. 

On the schedule this fall is seven different exhibit areas that will be getting updates or complete renovations. 

  • The Amazing Heart slide will be getting a fresh coat of paint. 
  • The Big Rig Depot, supported by L3 D.P. Associates and Schneider National, is a new exhibit that will feature a semi-truck, an engine for the kids the work on and a semi-truck simulator.
  • Discovery Tree, supported by Pucuda Inc., will be getting new netting for the rope bridges. 
  • Construction Junction, supported by The Boldt Company, will build off of the existing crane and add more building space and interactive construction activities. 
  • The da Vinci Studio, supported by School Specialty, is being updated with a new look and more ways for kids to express their creativity. 
  • Kwik Trip, supported by Kwik Trip, Inc., will be updated with a refreshed look and incorporate more math and shapes into the exhibit. 
  • Happy Baby Garden, supported by Huggies and Pull-Ups, will get a complete renovation, becoming Babies & Toddlers Around the World. This space will have a mountain slide and a sailboat for around-the-world adventures in this specially created exhibit space for ages 0–3. 

“Many of our exhibits had been around for quite a few years and were well loved,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “Our goal for our 25th birthday year was to finish up updating, reimagined or added to the permanent exhibits in the BFKCM. We are very thankful that we live in such a generous community that has donated time, talents and funds to help us reach that goal.”

Along with the exhibit updates, the BFKCM will be unveiling a new logo and brand. The refreshed look will be evident inside and out with plans to make the facade brighter and new graphic elements throughout the BFKCM. 

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One of the core beliefs at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) is that every child and family deserve a chance to play. Families going through financial difficulties can visit the BFKCM for $2 per person under the newest program, Access Admission, part of the national Museums for All program an initiative between the Association of Children’s Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

Access Admission is also part of the BFKCM’s Access for All programs which help support families and children in times of need and financial difficulty, giving kids the opportunity to experience the simple joys of being a kid. Other programs in Access for All include Access Membership that offers reduced rate yearly BFKCM Memberships, Organization Access Membership for families that are utilizing various basic needs organizations to visit the BFKCM, Field Trip Grants to reduce the cost of field trips and Discovery Classes for schools with a high free and reduced lunch rate and more.

“Every child, every family needs the opportunity to connect, create lasting memories and forge stronger bonds,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “Our Access for All enables us to examine and remove barricades from visiting the BFKCM and make sure we are accessible to families throughout the community. ”

The Access for All programs are made possible by generous donations from the community. To support the BFKCM and the Access for All programs, visit buildingforkids.org/access-for-all.

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At Financial Literacy Free Day at The Building for Kids Children’s Museum (BFKCM) families can learn how to save and spend wisely, and have fun doing it! This free admission day on Sunday, April 22 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. is sponsored by Money Smart Week, Mielke Family Foundation and Chase Bank and will offer math and financial programming, as well as the opportunity for families to enjoy the BFKCM.

When kids enter the BFKCM, they will receive a check they can cash for Museum money. Throughout the Museum there will be different stations where they will learn about spending, saving and sharing. Each station will teach different elements of financial literacy. Kids can play games for the cost of their water bill which teaches about budging skills and play investment games to learn about saving. They will get the opportunity to purchase healthy snacks and other items, do fun activities and learn about sharing with others in our community.

“Through Financial Literacy Free Day, we are not just teaching kids math and financial skills, but also cause and effect,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “It is created to be fun and interactive, but also where they relate to real life examples they see every day in their parents.”

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The Building for Kids (BFK) will be celebrating what makes our community unique at Diversity Discovery Free Day on Sunday, February 11 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. In partnership with Celebrate Diversity and University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, with the support of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, this free admission day will feature all the fun of the BFK plus local non-profit and community groups with hands-on activities for families to learn, discover and celebrate diversity.

Activities include making a xauv (a traditional Hmong necklace) with the Southeast Asian Students Union from UWGB, creating paper bag piñatas with Casa Hispana, computer programming with WIT4Girls and more. Plus, play Plinko with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and get information about their anti-bullying website, Act Now!

Along with the family-friendly, interactive activities, there will be different programs including the Oneida Nation Dancers, a play by Gain Peace and the Lawrence University Gamelan.

“Diversity Discovery Free Day encourages visitors to come and learn about all the different cultures, traditions and people that make up our neighborhoods,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director at the BFKCM. “It’s a way to celebrate what makes us all unique, but also what makes us all similar and creates a community.”

Diversity Discovery Free Day is supported by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region and the Mielke Family Foundation.

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Big Arts in the Little Apple, an annual collaborative program between The Building for Kids (BFK) and the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, will be unveiling a community-wide art exhibit on February 3. Over 700 original pieces were created by Appleton Area School District 3rd and 4th-grade students this past fall and will be displayed in various places in the community through March 4.

The program encouraged students to explore the connection between music and visual art. While listening to “Route 66” by Michael Daugherty, a musical trip down the historic U.S. Route 66, students were encouraged to imagine the visual aspects in the music and how different elements in the music made them feel. It was through critically listening to the music that students were able to make the creative connections to inspire their pieces.

“It is such an extraordinary moment when the kids get to see their artwork displayed throughout the community. They spend weeks diving into the music, learning new visual art techniques and expanding their abstract thinking to ultimately create these amazing pieces of art,” said Jarrad Bittner, Executive Director of the BFK. “They all share an incredible amount of pride for their creations and we are so excited that the community has embraced this program to support these talented young artists.”

The art pieces inspired by “Route 66” range from collage to acrylic, abstract to landscape, and capture the wide range of creativity and talent of the students. Over 20 locations are housing the unique pieces, most being in downtown Appleton. Click here to see a map of all the art piece locations. During the run of the exhibit, the BFK will have programs and activities to encourage visitors to explore the connections between visual arts and music.

The 25 best in show pieces will be featured at the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Modern American Legends concert on February 3, with the student artists invited to hear the Symphony perform “Route 66” live at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Big Arts in the Little Apple was made possible with the generous support of the Appleton Area School District, Octoberfest, School Specialty, Appleton Education Foundation, Miron Construction, Mielke Family Foundation, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and Heid Music.

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