mission & history
The Children’s Museum of La Crosse offers affordable opportunities for the young and the young at heart to learn, connect and grow through interactive play. Our vision is to be a dynamic, interactive resource for families, community organizations and visitors.
It all started with a dream by Executive Director, Anne Snow. After moving to La Crosse, Wisconsin in December of 1994, she and her two young daughters missed the children’s museum they had frequented in New Orleans. Anne learned as much as she could about children’s museums, spread her enthusiasm among a large group of interested volunteers, and began raising friends and funds to make the dream come true.
The Charles & Marjorie Collins family gave the Museum a home by donating a 30,000 square foot building in downtown La Crosse. A $2.6 million capital campaign to prepare the building and create exhibits was kicked off in December of 1997, with a generous $1 million lead gift by local philanthropist Gertrude Salzer Gordon and hundreds of other generous donors and volunteers. The Gertrude Salzer Gordon Children’s Museum of La Crosse, Inc. opened on February 28, 1999.
The Children’s Museum of La Crosse welcomes 70,000+ visitors per year from a 75-mile radius of La Crosse and beyond. The Museum and its exhibits are targeted to children aged 1-10 and their adult companions. Since opening day, over 1 million people have explored and enjoyed the Museum’s three floors of hands-on exhibits and related programming.
The Children’s Museum earns over half of the annual operating budget through admissions and other fees. The remaining is generated by donations, grants and special events. The Museum receives no United Way or state, local or federal Government funding.
- Celebrate Play Every Day. Play is how children learn who they are and how the world works, solve problems, and learn to express feelings. The value and power of play are incorporated into every aspect of the Children’s Museum of La Crosse.
- Make Meaningful Memories. The Children’s Museum is a place away from work and household distractions, where adults and children can share quality time and experience the luxury of becoming lost in the moment.
- Be Active. The Museum recognizes the importance of healthy living for children and adults, as well as the value of life-long learning through interactive experiences.
- Dream Big. The Museum is committed to supporting parents, teachers and other caring adults to encourage and nurture creativity and personal development for children. The Museum is also always looking for ways to be the best we can be for our customers and community.
- Do your best, always. Integrity—fiscal responsibility, programming excellence, customer service, employment experience—is core to the Museum’s mission.
- Share. The Children’s Museum strives to welcome all people and partners, to play and learn, communicate and collaborate, lead and listen, plan and provide.
"Some people talk about play as if it were a relief from serious learning or even worse: a waste of time. But for children, play is exceedingly serious…and important! In fact, play is a way for children to learn who they are and how the world works, solve problems, and to express feelings. Yes, play is the real work of childhood, and for young people today, many children’s museums offer play experiences that other settings are not able to give them."
- Fred Rogers
“I really like the Children’s Museum. I had a B-L-A-S-T, and I learned that museums don’t have to be boring!”
- Ashley, age 8