Our History & Mission

Playing and Learning,
One Child at a Time!

CMEC Mission Statement

The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire inspires children and grown-ups to learn through play.

Ten Years of Play —
the History of Children's Museum of Eau Claire

It All Started... with a little Imagination



Patrick Rebman, the father of a three-year old daughter, had the idea to create a Children’s Museum and asked his friends to help him.


Paperwork was filed and the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, Inc. was born!



The Museum received notice of its tax-exempt status. As a 501(c)(3) organization, CMEC can solicit tax deductible donations.


CMEC began renting the old Woolworth’s building on the corner of Barstow Street and Grand Avenue, which is still the Museum's location today!



Exhibits began being built. EE Corporation and Kidzibits – two exhibit firms from Minneapolis – created five custom-made exhibits for CMEC: Toddler Park, Bitty City, Kidstruction Zone, Body Smarts & Show Business. Meanwhile, architectural plans were developed by Ayres Associates of Eau Claire in conjunction with Bill Greaves, a children’s museum architect from Virginia.


On December 9th, 2004, the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire opened its doors to the public.

Did you know?


In 2006, the board moved forward with plans to expand operations into the Museum’s lower level and second floor. The expansion began with the replacement of the elevator and a stairwell and renovation of the Museum’s unfinished basement.



The completed lower level opened to the public in August 2007 with a new art studio, two programming rooms and an exhibit gallery along with a new office complex and a maintenance workshop. The second floor renovations were completed with the exception of carpeting and paint – those were to be finished when the exhibits are ready to be installed.



Water Works, a permanent, interactive water exhibit, was opened in the lower level exhibit gallery.


Community volunteers and exhibit contractors banded together to tackle the top and final floor of the Museum. Plans were made to develop an outdoors exhibit that would include “Under the Wisconsin Sky,” a place to drive, camp, fish and explore nature, along with “Our Family Farm,” a barn with a milk-able cow, a real tractor and hand-on components to communicate Wisconsin’s longstanding farming and agriculture industry.

The Imagination Playground “Big Blue Blocks” were also added to this floor

Finally, this level built a multipurpose space that could be used for meetings, programs, special events and other activities.


In 2014 the top and final floor of the Museum was open for business, drawing in a record number of visitors—a whopping 68,000!



Through a grant by the National Science Foundation, the Museum opened its first dedicated science exhibit called “Nano: Imagine and discover a world you can’t see!” on the top level. This exhibit opening was accompanied by Nano ice cream from the UWEC Materials Science center along with a special presentation of “Attack of the Nanoscientist!”


The Children's Museum of Eau Claire celebrated their 10th Birthday with a grand gala!

Also in October, CMEC debuted its first ever “Superhero Power Party,” a live, interactive adventure game where kids and their grown-up sidekicks worked to defeat three vile villains who had been terrorizing Bitty City!


...and beyond!

The Board and Staff at CMEC are looking to the future and brainstorming new exhibits and activities to enhance the learning and play of children and grown-ups throughout the Chippewa Valley!

600,000 visitors have played at the Museum, and we look forward to serving many more families in the community!

the power of play cmec provides a wealth of opportunities for learning through play
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