Kidspace Celebrates 40th Anniversary, Blends Art and Self Discovery Into '40 Days of Fun'

Published : Friday, June 21, 2019 | 5:19 AM

[Updated] Kidspace Children’s Museum Celebrates its 40th Anniversary by blending art and colorful activities with ’40 Days of Fun’ during July and August.

Visitors should prepare to be “Slimed” “bubbled” and otherwise barraged with summertime fun from July 6 to August 16.  On July 13-14 the museum will celebrate a big Birthday Bash.

“It’s such an exciting opportunity for me to come to work,” said Michael Shanklin, chief executive officer of Kidspace Children’s Museum, who has been at the helm of the museum for eight years. “The children are learning about themselves and parents are party to seeing their children do really big things. The work of a child is play, so to see that day in and day out is such a joy.”

It’s been an adventurous and bold 40 years for the Museum, now a staple for thousands of local parents.

The museum was started in 1979 by members of the Caltech community teaming with Pasadena’s Junior League. Kidspace launched with a pilot exhibit called “Making Senses,” then graduated to Rosemont Pavilion with additional elements provided by ArtCenter and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Kidspace then found a home at McKinley School from 1981 to 2002.

Several years and 1.8 million guests later, Kidspace expanded to Brookside Park in the heart of the Arroyo Seco. It opened in 2004 and has continued to grow with the opening of Galvin Physics Forest in 2012, Imagination Workshop in 2014, and Arroyo Adventure in 2016.

Kidspace has welcomed more than 5 million guests and is proud to have more than 6,000 member families.

“There have been some really lean years in the past,” Shanklin said. “We try to do so much with so little. A lot of people don’t realize we’re a nonprofit. The result of that is we are constantly finding ways to meet our mission-driven goals of creating access for the community.”

The museum continually works to develop programs designed to engage the community.

For low to moderate-income families, people who will never set foot in the museum, we bring a program to them. We balance programs that are low-cost or no cost with your needs of having a balanced budget. Shanklin is especially proud of the Kidspace For All initiative.

“The lowdown on Kidspace For All is it’s been going on for years, we formalized it four years ago naming it Kid Space For All,” he said. “It’s designed for moderate-to low-income families.

The initiative includes things like Free Family Nights on first Tuesday of the month, where if a family uses an EBT card and they display it at the museum, instead of normal admission of $14 per person it would be $3 per person. The museum also offers camp scholarships and the subsidization of school group programs.

Shanklin said the museum operates between service of duty and service of community. The museum provides programs to low-income families for no cost. The museum is a nonprofit which many people may not even know, he said.

“Our donors want to know they’re giving to a responsible organization that will use the money wisely,” he said. “Meeting the needs of the community and running in the black —  that is success. We work to be good stewards of the money that we have. The basic fundamentals of running a business are no different whether it’s profit or nonprofit.”

Today’s Kidspace Museum set on 3 acres of open space and greenery. And green will be a popular color during the ’40 Days of Fun,’ Shanklin said. It’s business as usual.

“We have an activity where the kids compete in answering exploratory questions, if one team gets the question right, they get to ‘Slime’ the other team,” he said. “Even yours truly has volunteered to get ‘Slimed,’” he said.

Kidspace’s 40 Days of Fun takes place July 6-Aug 16 at Kidspace Museum, Pasadena

Kidspace is open Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $14 for adults and children. Free for children under one year. For more information, visit kidspacemuseum.org.

Kidspace Children’s Museum is at 480 N. Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena. For more click here or call (626) 449-9144.

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