inspiring learning through play

@ children's museum of eau claire

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CMEC is a favorite destination for families in the Chippewa Valley

The Children’s Museum offers non-traditional learning opportunities that help kids of all ages SEE, TOUCH, LEARN and GROW their way through important developmental milestones.

Capital Campaign

We built a new, modern museum in Eau Claire for children to see, touch, learn, and grow. Help us reach our donation goal and be a part of something BOLDER. BETTER. BIGGER.

About

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire has been an important part of the local community for over two decades.

Learn more

Work

Whether you want to volunteer or you are seeking a paid position, check out our current openings.

View Openings

Contact

Have a question about memberships, giving, summer camps, or renting a space? We're here to help.

Let's Talk

Have any questions?

Give us a call at 715-832-5437 or send an e-mail to Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com

Visit

Come and experience the many wonders of the Children's Museum of Eau Claire and experience a magical place for children.

Can I bring my coffee, lunch, or snacks?
FOOD

If you want to eat lunch during your visit, you are welcome to bring in a cooler and use our Family Lunch Space located in our front lobby. However, we do NOT permit peanut butter or other nut products out of consideration for our guests with severe allergies.

While we certainly understand the need for snacks, we kindly ask that you do NOT bring food onto the exhibit floor. This helps keep the Children's Museum in great shape for future visitors.

DRINKS

You are allowed to bring coffee/water bottles into the museum, but please drink carefully!

Can I drop my kids off at the museum?
Nope.

The rule at the Children's Museum has always been that every kid must have a grown-up (16+), and every grown-up must have a kid! Although our staff does an amazing job of maintaining a safe, fun environment, we are not a childcare facility and are not staffed adequately to supervise your child while they play in the Museum.

We Get The Appeal, Though

We LOVE places like the YMCA that allow for kid drop-off. We know it helps mom and dad out! However, CMEC serves as a unique community location where kids and their grown-ups can play, grow and learn together. Parent-child connectedness is one of the greatest contributors to a happy, healthy kiddo.

Do we have to wear socks in the museum?
Yes

But only if they're paired with shoes! For the safety of our guests, we ask that all visitors keep their shoes ON while playing in the Museum.

Do you have a cafe or restaurant in the museum?
Yes & No

We do not sell food and drinks, so please plan ahead. If you'd prefer to pack a lunch, you're welcome to use our Family Lunch Space in the lobby. (no peanut butter or nut products, please).

Local Options

Your Daily Admission Pass is good all day. If you need to leave for lunch or a nap, just hang onto your receipt and come back later in the afternoon!

Although we don't have our own eatery, downtown Eau Claire is home to some great restaurants within a few minutes walk. We'd love for you to check out some of our neighbors! Grab pizza at The Plus, enjoy sushi at Ninja, visit the Menomonie Food Market for snacks and a sammy, or bite into a hoagie at the Acoustic Cafe.

Do you have discounts available?

Through the Play-for-All Program, we offer a discounted membership for families in financial need, families of kids with special needs, as well as military families.

Play for All Program

In partnership with the Pablo Center

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire currently offers a discounted membership program (Play for All) that allows families in need to purchase a membership for $20 annually. With an All Play Membership, families have access to all of the features of The Local Membership.

The Play-For All program aims to ensure families with children who have special needs, families on WIC or the Free and Reduced Lunch program, and military families enjoy expanded access to educational and arts related programming and events.  This includes:

  1. Reduced-priced annual All Play Memberships
  2. Special Kids Nights at the Museum
  3. Family Free Play nights
  4. Scholarship programs for schools to take field trips

For more information or to apply for this membership, stop by the Front Desk or talk to a real person at 715.832.KIDS.

Do you have wifi available in the museum?
Nope!

We're all about screen-free play, for kiddos and grown-ups! If you can, try to put your phone away and enjoy some unplugged play with your kids.

Try Making A New Friend

Pretend it's 1999 and talk to some of the other grown-ups! Trust us, they will feel anxious just like you. From experience we can tell you that there is no better place to make a new friend than the play area.

How much does it cost to get into the museum?
$11/Person

A Daily Admission Pass is $11.00 per person, ages 1-100.

Infants under 1 are admitted free!

What activities and programs are available?

Our program offerings change every week, and there's almost always something happening at the museum. Visit our handy online Event Calendar to find out what's happening during your visit! Most programs are free and included with admission or membership.

What do kids learn at the Children's Museum?
Believe It Or Not

There's no end to what a child can learn at the Children's Museum. Our exhibits cover topics ranging from nanoscience and nature to building and business ownership. That said, the most important type of learning that happens here very often looks like play!

Child-Driven Play

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, unstructured, child-driven play and exploration is crucial to healthy development. Playing helps children learn to solve their own problems, handle emotions like anger and fear, socialize with others, grow a love for learning and develop executive function; the very important ability to work independently at setting goals and figuring out how to reach them. However, because play disguises all of this development as "fun," kids don't even realize they're learning stuff!

Kids Today Are Missing Out

Unfortunately, kids today spend 8 hours less each week playing than their counterparts did two decades ago. Not only does this loss of imaginative play mean kids are less creative and independent, but it also puts them at greater risk for anxiety, depression, self-control and problems paying attention. In other words, although it may look like kids are "just playing," under the surface they're hard at work...er...play, becoming happy, healthy adults. Or as we like to say, play is very serious business!

Why do adults have to pay to get into the museum?
Great Question

Adults often ask us why they are charged admission, especially when the kids are doing most of the playing. We have a few helpful answers for that:  

  1. Although we understand that grown-ups sometimes need a break from the often exhausting task of caring for kids, a Children's Museum is not a childcare facility. We exist as a community advocate for caregiver-child interaction. After all, as an adult you are your child's first play partner.

    Your involvement helps to scaffold your child's ability to play in ways that are more sustained and sophisticated through your comments, questions and prompting. While kids are often perfectly content playing on their own or with peers, they also need time to bond with their parents or caregivers. This is a critical building block necessary for child-development.
  2. Research shows us that adults who spend time playing tend to be more creative, less stressed and better at solving problems!
  3. Charging a fee for adults helps us keep admission costs lower across the board.
  4. We're also big fans of saving you money through membership! Starting at just $120 a year, two adults and all kids under 18 living in the same household can get FREE, unlimited admission to the Museum for the entire year.

Details On Memberships

Private Rentals

More and more parents are choosing CMEC for their children's birthday parties or special events. Here are some common things we are asked...

Available Equipment For Your Event
Chairs, Tables & AV Equipment
  • Museum can provide tables and chairs for up to 52 people.  We have (7) 4-ft black tables that fit 4 people and (4) 6-ft white tables that fit 6 people.  Outside of this, Renter will have to rent from another facility and organize with the Museum on when they can be delivered.
  • We have a speaker system (audio) capability.  No video.
Available Times
Rentals Are After Hours
5:00pm - 7:00pm As The Preferred Reservation Time
  • Any day of the week can be booked depending on staff availability
  • You will need to coordinate with one of our friendly staff as soon as possible for adequate staffing
Can I Bring My Own Food/Beverages?
Yes!

We encourage you to bring in your own snacks, cakes, drinks, plates, cups, utensils, etc. Non-alcoholic beverages only.

The Museum can provide tables and chairs.

There is a designated space to eat in the front area as we do not allow food on the exhibit floor.

Decorating & Food
Make It Your Own
  • Organizers are allowed to bring in food and drink.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages only.
  • Limited decorations are okay in the lobby area near the food (e.g. balloons or table top decorations/no wall decorations).  We recommend organizers do very little decorating as our museum already offers a friendly atmosphere
How do I Book a Private Rental?
Easy.

Please email Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com for information and booking availability.

Want to talk to a person? Give us a call at (715)832-5437 during business hours.

Important Details
Before You Book, You Should Know...
  • Organizers are allowed to come in a half hour early and stay a half hour late for any set-up and take-down (remind party contact of this when they arrive)
  • CMEC requires at least one responsible adult per 10 children to supervise at all times while in the Museum
  • Guests are responsible for general clean-up before they leave
  • Rental fee does not include the following services:  security, educational programs or activities, food or beverage service, special tour requests, decorations, or other equipment
  • CMEC will provide 2 staff for the entirety of the event
Prices, Deposits & Payments
Birthdays And Other Non-Business Rentals
  • Non-members $300 for 2-hours, 250 capacity
  • Members $250 for 2-hours ($50 off), 250 capacity
  • Additional hours:  $100/per hour
Other Events
  • Business/corporate rentals:  $500 for 2 hours, 500 capacity
  • No weddings at this time
Deposits & Payments
  • Deposits are required to reserve the date
  • $100 non-refundable deposit
  • All payments need to be paid in full before the event starts
What Does a Private Rental Cost?
2 Hour Private Rental

Members: $250

Non-Members: $300

Business/Corporate Rentals: $500

*$100 for an additional hour

Where do we Park?
Options.

In downtown Eau Claire, there are plenty of free or inexpensive parking lots and ramps available to you. Here are our top recommendations:

If you're planning to visit for less than 2 hours, there is FREE, 2-hour parking available on surrounding downtown streets. Please note that the 2-hour parking rule is in effect from 6am to 6pm, 7 days a week. If you are parked in one of these spots longer than 2 hours, there is a good chance you will be ticketed, so remember to move your car if you extend your visit.

If you're planning to visit for more than 2 hours, you can park in the downtown municipal parking ramp near our location, on Galloway Street. Current rates are 50 cents per hour, all-day-every-day, with a maximum charge of $8.00.

Memberships

With four membership plans, we try to cover all the bases while being easily understandable. Still, these questions have been asked before...

Can I Give a Membership as a Gift?
Of Course!

Is there a child or family in your life that you have trouble buying gifts for? Not sure what they’d actually like? Drowning in toy aisles of Elsa dolls and light sabers? Why not give them the gift of unlimited play!

A Membership to the Children's Museum of Eau Claire equals 365 days of play, imagination, discovery, science, art, literacy, family connection, time together and learning about the world around them, all disguised as a whole lot of fun. It’s the gift they can open all year long!

Call us at (715) 832-5437 or send us an email at Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com to purchase a gift card.

Do I Qualify for the Play-for-All Membership?
Read On.

This membership is for those who are considered low to moderate income, those who are on the WIC, IEP, Food Share program, free/reduced school lunch and military families.

Every kid deserves the right to play!

Whether finances are tight, circumstances are tough or families are caring for kids with special needs, the Play-for-All program works hard to provide CMEC's educational programs, exhibits and events in ways that are accessible for everyone.

In partnership with the Pablo Center, you are also able to gain access to discounted prices to Pablo Access shows!

Send us an email at Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com to have the application sent to you.

How do I know if a membership is right for me?
Easy!

Do you come to the museum more than 3 times a year? A family of five would pay for their membership in only 3 visits with our Family Local Membership.

The Children's Museum of Eau Claire exists as an interactive environment for children and their grown-ups that inspires imagination, discovery, creativity and the love of learning. One of the ways that CMEC best accomplishes this mission is through annual memberships.

Although there is tremendous value in even just one visit to the Museum, the most significant and lasting impact happens over time, through multiple and consistent visits—in other words, through membership.

What is the First Time Parent Membership About?
Amazing Offer.

The First Time Parent Membership is only for those who have had their very first child ever. You can take advantage of this membership any time up until your newborn is 18 months of age and the membership will be good for one year after you hand in your application.

What is the benefit of bringing your child to the museum at such an early age?

Besides the fact that your kiddo's brain is like a sponge during these early times, and they are learning just by being there, this membership is for you, the parent, too! Come and socialize with other parents at our First Time Parent groups, or simply just to get out of the house for a little bit!

Send us an email at Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.comto have the application sent to you.

What is the difference between each membership?
Explore.

Each membership has different perks!

Whether you stay local and pretty much only visit our children's museum, or travel the world and want to visit as many different children's museums as you can, click on the links in the "Memberships" tab to explore what each membership offers.

Give

Giving to ECMC is a proven way to positively impact our local community's next generation. Here are some things to know...

How do I Make a Gift?
Easy.

We have different levels of giving! Simply click on the "Give" tab to learn more and to choose which gift would be right for you.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can get involved and make an impact, please email Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com.

How do I Request a Donation for my Organization?
Send Us An Email!

Hello@ChildrensMuseumEC.com

Is my Gift Tax Deductible?
Yes!

All gifts are tax deductible as permitted by law.

To make a contribution, please click here or give us a call! at (715)832-5437.

What Are Other Ways to Give?
Great Question!

There are many different ways to give to the museum that don't involve money.

  • Employer matching gifts. Many employers will match your gift to the museum. Ask your business for more details
  • Volunteer your time! We can always use the help of a volunteer. Whether it be cutting paper for crafts, helping out at a daily program or class, or even just helping to clean up after a full day of fun, we love our volunteers!
  • Donate items. Books, paint, craft supplies, office supplies, costumes, we will take it all!
Why Should I Give to the Children's Museum?
Here's Why.

We spark imaginations with our exhibits where children can climb, explore, and play, and we inspire creativity by offering a dedicated art space where one-of-a-kind masterpieces are created. We foster learning through play, by presenting hands-on exhibits and programs for children to learn to explore the world, practice cooperation, and gain confidence as learners.

Your gift makes a difference

For kids, the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire is their neighborhood. Kids connect through play. They build bridges across communities. Here, the neighborhood gets bigger and more inclusive. You are an important part of this neighborhood, too! Your gift ensures that the museum continues to be an accessible and affordable place for all children to connect, dream, and grow.

We serve over 3,500 families a year, with almost a 1/3 of those families coming from low to moderate income.

Your gift supports all of them.

As a 501(c)(3) community supported non-profit organization, CMEC relies on the support of individuals, corporations, foundations, volunteers, and community members. And with only 70% of Museum expenses covered by admission fees, we rely on generous support from the community to fulfill our mission of helping children learn through play.

Every dollar donated to the Museum goes directly towards building exhibits, delivering educational programs in local classrooms, and providing low cost admissions to children in need.