In December 1995, a group of volunteers in the Brazos Valley led by A&M Professor, Dr. Dale Whittaker (a Kellogg Foundation Fellow) and his wife Mary, came together to form and incorporate The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley in the State of Texas. It was their dream to create a nonprofit children’s museum where children ages infant to 14 would be encouraged to have hands-on educational and fun arts and science experiences.
In June 1996, the group received its nonprofit 501 (c) 3 status from the IRS, and in July 1996, the board began exhibit planning and construction. In October 1996, at the FestiFall event sponsored by the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, the Children’s Museum offered the public a preview of what, with their support, their community museum would soon become. A Board of Directors was elected in January 1997 and in the spring of 1997 Board members gave promotional programs and informative speeches to civic groups and organizations.
The Kellogg Foundation, which sponsored Dr. Whittaker’s involvement through its National Leadership Fellow program, provided funding during the start-up phase. The Museum was also given a key donation of two years of rent-free space in the newly renovated “Old Bryan Marketplace.” The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley opened its doors at 202 South Bryan St. on April 18, 1998. Initially, an all-volunteer staff ran The Children’s Museum, and earliest operation was on weekends only. In June, operating hours were expanded to Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 5p.m., with after-hours reservations for special events and birthday parties.
The year 2000 was a landmark year for The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Bryan was signed and gave The Museum opportunity to obtain Old City Hall as its home. Construction was completed and, on October 24, 2001, Old City Hall became the new home of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley. The unique history of the building resulted in its being placed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 18, 2000.
` We moved to our current location at 4001 East 29th Street, Suite 80 in Bryan in the Fall of 2014, and our grand opening was in January 2015. We currently have a 10 year lease for our new location, in the Carter Creek shopping center. Our ultimate goal is to have our own building. The plan is to begin fundraising for the new building in 5 years with an estimated completion date of 2025.
Since 1998, The Children’s Museum has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors through its doors and brought learning through play into actuality. While The Museum began as a museum without walls, today it is home to 12 different hands-on, interactive, educational exhibits that foster a love of learning and inspire young minds throughout the years. The Museum also boasts special programing and reading times that are designed for children and families to learn together through play, to put into practice what children are learning in the classroom, and to take practical learning skills home for continued discovery. Spring, summer, and winter camps center on a myriad of themes and bring children together to play, learn, create, and discover.