Exploration and play are critical to healthy child development. Play benefits children physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. But not every child gets the opportunity to play in a safe and developmentally stimulating environment. That’s why Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is proud to provide that opportunity.
“Our mission at Little Buckeye Children's Museum is to provide children and families with the opportunity to learn and discover through the power of play,” said Suzanna Hammond, Museum Manager at Little Buckeye. “To us, this means providing healthy child development opportunities through hands-on, imagination-based play.”
The museum does this through a number of avenues, including classes, programs, field trips, community outreach, and of course, through the infamous interactive exhibits. The museum features over 30 unique exhibits carefully designed to stimulate appropriate child development by promoting curiosity, and developing skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and other important skills.
Since Little Buckeye began eight years ago, attendance of the museum has boomed. By the end of 2019, the staff expects to have over 70,000 visitors. With Little Buckeye Children’s Museum’s attendance rates climbing and ongoing interest from new potential exhibit and programming sponsors, the museum board has decided to move to a larger location.
At the end of 2018, Little Buckeye Children’s Museum officially purchased a new building located on Park Avenue West, right next to the Renaissance Theatre’s Black Box venue Theatre 166.
The Renaissance Performing Arts Association and Little Buckeye Children’s Museum subsequently entered together into a new project, The Imagination District. This campaign supports the revitalization of a neglected block of derelict buildings sitting in the heart of downtown Mansfield and aims to turn it into a cultural and educational hub.
Little Buckeye looks forward to opening the new facility dedicated to child, family and community development to the public in 2021.
In the meantime, the museum continues to expand its reach at the current facility through new traveling exhibits, parenting programs, exhibit renovations and more.
Funds raised this year will be used for exhibit and building maintenance and renovation as well as for programming. These programs include First Fridays, Project Passport, and weekly art and music classes.
Project Passport is one of many projects that specifically aims to help people from Richland County. This program offers free field trips to kindergarten classes in the county. Other programs are also focused on community outreach, such as parenting classes and new traveling exhibits. The museum also offers a program called Museums for All, which provides a discount for economically disadvantaged families.
Little Buckeye Children’s Museum has a commitment to filling the gap in healthy child development.
“Our goal is to help fill the gaps that are often left behind by traditional public school systems and shifts in society,” said Hammond. “In today’s world, schools are becoming more structured, and states are raising their academic standards. Many art and music programs are at risk for being cut from the curriculum, along with physical education programs and recess time.”
Hammond remarked that children today are under more pressure than ever to be well-rounded and actively participate in more than one extra-curricular activity. In addition, technological advances position children to spend time alone with screens.
“Another goal is to provide a fun and safe space that encourages open-ended, self-directed play. This promotes exploration and sparks imagination,” Hammond said. “Our exhibits also contain components that encourage parent-child interaction, as we know that this is critical to child development. Through the power of play, children will also develop crucial skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving skills, social skills (like sharing and communication skills), fine and gross motor skills and more, all while having fun.”
Help Little Buckeye Children’s Museum fill these gaps and continue to be a safe place for children to play and learn by donating this Richland Gives.