The new Madison Children's Museum is a community effort
For Brenda Baker, the Madison Children’s Museum move to the Capitol Square isn’t just a major relocation. It’s also the chance to make the museum even more tailored to kids and the community.
Baker, who works as director of exhibits and marks her twentieth year with the museum this month, collaborated with more than one hundred local artists on projects ranging from a vivid mural by children’s book author Kevin Henkes and his artist wife, Laura Dronzek, and fiber-art pizzas and pies that Madison artist Julie Case crafted from old sweaters to furniture, fences and other practical offerings.
“We wanted to get everybody in the community to feel vested in the museum,” Baker says.
Kids helped, too. Ceramicist Linda Leighton guided art teachers and students from area schools in making decorative tiles. Arranged by themes such as undersea life, Wisconsin animals and fruits and veggies, they’re showcased in the museum’s public restrooms.
Featuring local students, artists and materials has created a truly Madison institution. “We didn’t want a museum that could be anywhere,” Baker says. And it’s an example of her putting philosophy into practice.
“It’s the whole notion of bloom where you’re planted,” she says. “Dig into your community and give back to your community. Try to do something good for where you live.”
The grand opening of the new Madison Children’s Museum is August 14. The next day, Baker leads a tour highlighting the museum’s public art. For more information, visit madisonchildrensmuseum.org.
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.