The mission of the Utica Children’s Museum is to offer an environment that supports every child’s natural curiosity to learn through hands-on, play-based exploration. Our primary target audience is children from birth to age 10, with a secondary service goal of educating older children and adults through exhibits that feature natural history, local history, STEAM, and early childhood. We are in the process of transforming the Museum into a hands-on, fully interactive destination.
In our fifty-three year history we have served hundreds of thousands of children and their families in Oneida, Herkimer, Madison, Onondaga, and Lewis counties, and also visitors from other states and around the world. We serve children across the state through field trips to the Museum, through family visits, and are beginning to once again offer outreach programs to schools and daycare programs that may have transportation restrictions.
The Utica Children’s Museum has a large usable exhibit space, at approximately 24,000 square feet spread over four floors, but we are a small nonprofit in all other respects with only one core employee, nine board members, and about 30 volunteers whose help is invaluable. We are permanently chartered by the New York Board of Regents and operate as a 501c3 educational not-for- profit organization.
Last fall, we joined “Museums for All,” an access initiative run cooperatively by the Association of Children’s Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This program offers greatly reduced admission fees to low-income families presenting an EBT card, with the goal of “ensuring that every child and family has access to a high-quality children’s museum experience,” as stated by the Association of Children’s Museums. Locally, the Museum has expanded this to include all public assistance and
income-based services, including WIC, public assistance, free or reduced lunch, among others to ensure that all families have the affordable entrance to the Museum.
Research into early childhood education has shown that play, and access to play, provides the framework for all higher learning. We provide a safe, indoor, year-round facility designed specifically for children and their learning. In our current period of renovation and growth, we are actively working with local community organizations and forming partnerships and developing programming ideas for the future with organizations such as Sculpture Space, Kid’s Oneida, Fort Stanwix, local colleges, and the Utica Zoo.
The Museum would use all funds raised through Madison County Gives to purchase new equipment and developmentally appropriate sensory play materials to fully equip a new play area, the Sensory Zone, an interactive exhibit suitable for all children (please see list below). We are committed to
building this space and are working with Utica College Occupational Therapy Graduate Program students and doctoral candidate Cicily Talerico, an Occupational Therapist, to design and construct this space and future programming to go along with it.