The mission of the Fairbanks Children’s Museum is to inspire and connect families in Interior Alaska through discovery and the power of play.
What is the Fairbanks Children’s Museum?
For us, play is a very serious business. It is through play that children strengthen relationships, explore new concepts, develop language, communication, and social skills, and make sense of the world around them. Playing provides a venue for children to practice what they are learning and a space for them to develop curiosity and a spark for life-long learning. Research shows that play is vital for cognitive and social development, and helps children succeed in later years.
The Fairbanks Children’s Museum is full of interactive exhibits and creative outlets designed for young people and their families to play and learn together. Role-playing, science, art, building, sensory, physical movement, and water play exhibits create an environment for discovery and active learning. When families come to the museum, they are able to spend time building relationships with each other, learn through joint exploration, and meet other families in the Fairbanks community.
The Fairbanks Children’s Museum is a valuable and accessible resource for all families in the Interior, and strives to be an active member in the Fairbanks community as well. We partner with individuals and groups for collaborative events and host school groups and day-care groups for field trips. We love Fairbanks, and we love the families, members, and donors that make our museum a fun and worthwhile place to be!
In 2006, a small group of Fairbanksians began discussing the idea of opening a children’s museum in the Interior. They started researching the children’s museum industry and began the process of bringing the community into the discussion.
In 2011, the initial Board of Directors was expanded and the Fairbanks Children’s Museum received their 501(c)3 non-profit status from the IRS. They joined the Association of Children’s Museums that year, and began the Museum Without Walls program. This program featured monthly events with play-based exhibits and creative activities to spread the news about the Fairbanks Children’s Museum in the Interior. The Museum Without Walls program had an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the community, and revealed the need for a family resource like this in Fairbanks!
In 2013, the University of Alaska Museum of the North invited the Fairbanks Children’s Museum to open a temporary “mini-museum” over the winter of 2013-2014. While there, the museum continued to grow via fundraising, exhibit building, and amazing efforts from volunteers and community members supporting the program. Finally, we were able to move into our “forever home” at 302 Cushman Street, in the heart of downtown Fairbanks.
After almost 10 years of planning, countless board meetings, and numerous fundraising endeavors, the Fairbanks Children’s Museum opened its doors to the Fairbanks community on January 31, 2015. Over 1,600 people visited the museum on opening day which was generously sponsored by Flint Hill Resources. Since our opening day, we’ve seen 52,000 visitors walk through our doors, including families from Fairbanks, visitors from around the world, parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and so many wonderful, curious and engaged children! As we look ahead, the museum will continue to bridge the gap between learning and play as a permanent resource in the Fairbanks Community.