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Kidspace Children's Museum facts for kids

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Kidspace Children's Museum
Kidspace Children's Museum.png
Established 1979
Location 480 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, California 91103
Type Nonprofit
Visitors 378,000

Kidspace Children's Museum is a children's museum in Pasadena, California, dedicated to "nurturing the potential of all children through kid-driven experiences, inspiring them to become joyful, active learners." It is located next to the Rose Bowl, in the former Fannie E. Morrison Horticultural Center.


Since the December 2004 opening of its new facility in Brookside Park, Pasadena, Kidspace Children’s Museum has provided local community children with a space for creative and interactive learning.

Serving over 378,000 guests each year, Kidspace is a unique children’s museum that features more than 40 hands-on exhibits, programs, and monthly events on almost 3.5 acres of indoor and outdoor space. Kidspace encourages a child’s growth and development through explorations of natural environments, investigations in science, and artistic forms of expression that captivate the inquisitive and growing minds of children ages 1 to 10.


1979: Kidspace Children's Museum launched at the California Institute of Technology. A community project of the Junior League of Pasadena, Kidspace addressed an educational need in the San Gabriel Valley: increased access to the arts, humanities and sciences for children. Volunteers created and presented a prototype interactive exhibit, "Making Senses," designed to stimulate the interest of children by featuring robotics and neon light displays. More than 10,000 young visitors, their parents and teachers participated in the first exhibition during its six-week run.

1980: The museum opened its doors in the Rosemont Pavilion on Arroyo Seco parkland with "hands-on" exhibits. Among other organizations, exhibit design and construction were the product of community collaborations with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Art Center College of Design and UNOCAL. Volunteers helping create the new museum included a Pasadena Unified School District superintendent, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory director and an originating director of the Princeton Junior Museum, all of whom provided expertise as members of the Museum's first Board of Advisors.

1981: Kidspace leased a larger and more accessible site from Pasadena Unified School District in the heart of Pasadena. Later that year, Kidspace Children's Museum was incorporated as a private, nonprofit children's museum with a mission of enriching the lives of children through an interactive learning environment that is fun for families.

1982-1990: Kidspace introduced participatory exhibits and educational programs that engaged and educated children in the arts, humanities and sciences. Quarterly themes, such as Homes and Habitats, Seasons and Celebrations and Children of the World at Play, provided focus during public programming and school tours.

1991-1995: A new school programs coordinator met the needs of teachers to coordinate curriculum with visits to the museum. Campers enrolled in summer workshops and "Toddlers on the Move" provided parenting classes and developmental play. With the support of community volunteers and the Circle of Friends support group, the staff produced annual events, including the Rosebud Parade (a child-sized Rose Parade), the "creatively creepy" Haunted House, Critter Expo and the Eco-Arts Festival.

1996: The Kidspace Board of Directors adopted a plan to grow the museum from a small local attraction to a major Southern California cultural and educational destination.

2002: Kidspace closed its former site at McKinley School in Pasadena and began renovation of the historic Fannie Morrison Horticultural Center buildings at Brookside Park in the Arroyo Seco.

2005: The new Kidspace features 2.2 acres (8,900 m2) of gardens designed to encourage children to discover the excitement of learning, while engaging in the creativity of play. Two three-story climbing towers and more than 2 acres (8,100 m2) of outdoor arroyo-scape environments designed by Nancy Goslee Power include 14 seasonal gardens and 10 exploration and discovery stations.

2009: Kidspace Children’s Museum celebrated 30 years of enriching the lives of children. In June 2009, the museum welcomed its one millionth visitor since opening at Brookside Park. Kidspace continues to serve children and families in Los Angeles County through museum programs, school group visits, parenting workshops, early learner classes, and community engagement.

2010: Kidspace embarked to expand its facilities by creating an outdoor physics-related area on the east side of the property. This area, known as Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest, encompassed almost an acre with 13 exhibits, all under a canopy of trees.

2012: Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest officially opened to the general public, July 2012. Galvin Physics Forest marked the first major addition to Kidspace since opening in Brookside Park in 2004. The Board of Directors launched The Campaign for the Future of Kidspace, a powerful $13 million capital campaign, which would allow Kidspace to take full advantage of its physical and natural resources, to expand its capacity to serve children, and to form meaningful community partnerships. With support from the Honorary Committee, the stage was set for Kidspace to reach its potential as a leader in children’s museums and informal education.

2013: The Imagination Workshop opened to the public on November 2013. The Imagination Workshop was built inside Roberts Pavilion in W.M. Keck Foundation Gallery. Funding for this project, came from The Campaign for the Future of Kidspace and was planned along with several other exhibit and program concepts as a part of an exhibit master plan, which detailed the next several projects to open at Kidspace over the next several years.

2014: S. Mark Taper Early Childhood Learning Center opened to the public, May 2014. The next project established by the exhibit master plan and funded by The Campaign for the Future of Kidspace. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Early Childhood Learning Center is an environment that inspires wonder, encourages exploration, and promotes adult-child interactions. This unique space that supports natural learning and activity that takes place in children by creating a rich sensory environment with a number of open-ended experiences and multi-use objects.

2015 - 2016: Pepper Tree Music Jam opened to the public on November 2015, as the first exhibit to be featured in the upcoming Arroyo Adventure. Arroyo Adventure opened to the public on April 2016. It marked the next biggest enhancement to Kidspace since the addition of Galvin Physics Forest in 2012. The exhibit brought 8 brand-new experiences that encourage children to connect with nature, engage in adventures, and uncover possibilities between water and rocks, mud and sticks, and trees and native plants. In November 2016, Kidspace renovated Roberts Pavilion to include a dramatic and visual arts area called Storyteller Studio with four new exhibits that would give children the opportunity to express themselves through puppets, theatrical play, story books, and fine arts.

2017 - 2019: Kidspace welcomed their five millionth guest in June 2017. The Association of Children’s Museum chose Kidspace as their host location for their InterActivity Conference for museum professionals in May 2017. The Kidspace On The Road program was expanded its outreach program offerings with the partnership with AEG’s Goldenvoice to incorporate a family-friendly experience for the newly established Arroyo Seco Weekend music festival at the Rose Bowl. The Campaign for the Future of Kidspace met its fundraising goal of $13 million. Splash Dance Fountains would be the final exhibit enhancement project for the campaign and re-opened in 2018. Bean Sprouts Café opened.

2020: Kidspace appoints a new Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Clements.


Kidspace has received funding from individuals including Jud and Marilyn Roberts, the Boone Family, Mark Taper, and others. Community partnerships have been formed with the City of Pasadena, the Junior League of Pasadena, Nestle Corporation, and others.

Inside the museum

Kidspace has exhibits, programs and activities that encourage a child’s growth and development through explorations of the environment, investigations in science, and artistic forms of expression that captivate the inquisitive and growing minds of children ages 10 and under.

Exhibits & Collections

With more than 40 hands-on exhibits to explore, activities of learning and discovery take place side-by-side with the creativity of play.

Arroyo Adventure

Centered around the Interpretive Arroyo, where children can splash and play in a miniature version of Pasadena’s own Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Adventure features experiences that encourage children to connect with nature. Guests are able to climb their way up to the giant Hawk’s Nest where they can let their imaginations soar as they look out over the trees. Children can explore the properties of mud and try their hand at brickmaking in Mud & Clay. Flood & Erosion Plain is an opportunity for children to investigate the effects of erosion by making channels through sand, building small dams, and using rocks to control the flow of water. Other exhibits include Hidden Forts, Pepper Tree Music Jam, Harvest Corner, and more!

Storyteller Studio

Through dramatic play, storytelling, and art-making, children have the opportunity to express themselves in four areas of Storyteller Studio. Children can read the stories of others in the reading nook, make up a story with puppets, or put on their own performance using the stage area and props! The art studio table provides a space for creating your next masterpiece. Infused with Kidspace’s unique, interdisciplinary, kid-driven approach to playing and learning, Storyteller Studio provides an open space for children to feel inspired. They can play, learn, express themselves, and join others while moving seamlessly back and forth between the different activities.

Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest

Physics Forest features 12 hands-on, interactive physics-related exhibits situated on a beautifully landscaped acre of land featuring native trees, shrubs, and grasses. Exhibits in Physics Forest illustrate fundamental physics concepts through engaging interactions appealing to all ages of visitors. Among the exhibits to explore are Giant Levers, which demonstrate mechanical advantage through a classic “tug-of-war” game; Bottle Rocket,  which illustrates force through pressurized launches; and Ball Bounce, which is all about transferring energy from the guest to the balls.

Imagination Workshop

Imagination Workshop offers guests a dedicated space in which they can create, invent, experiment and explore at their own pace. In this makerspace, guests can build with everyday objects, special tools and unique materials as well as display their work for others to use as inspiration. Imagination Workshop gives guests a place to practice their creativity and critical thinking skills by working out problems while making things that are only limited by their imaginations.

S. Mark Taper Foundation Early Childhood Learning Center

Early Childhood Learning Center was designed to inspire wonder, stimulate exploration, and prompt interaction between children and their adults. Inspired by nature, this padded space provides a variety of experiences through interactive exhibits geared towards children from birth to age three. Crawlers and early walkers can enjoy the tactile nature of the “Shiny Stream,” exploring different surfaces, climbing and sliding, and families can snuggle up in the cozy “Nuzzle Nests.” In addition to crawling and climbing, young children can play with toys designed for their age and participate in a daily story and music times.

More exhibits and collections to discover include:

  • I-Play Zone – These large blue blocks encourage children to build and create a whole new world each and every day by building objects like animals, rocket ships, and robots.
  • Nature Exchange – The home of the live animal collection, including the observation beehive, and a variety of insects and reptiles, Nature Exchange is where you can explore and learn about the natural world.
  • InterAntics Climber and Ant Hole – Crawl through tunnel just like ants, popping up through the ground and scurrying up the ant hill.
  • The Dig – Experience the excitement of uncovering dinosaur fossils and trekking to a dig site in a Land Cruiser
  • S. Mark Taper Foundation Climbing Towers – Featuring the Raindrop and Wisteria Climbers, these 40-foot tall climbing structures are designed to reflect their namesake and offer a fun and active challenge for all Kidspace guests.
  • Trike Tracks – Children can learn the rules of the road and try out different tricycles as they make their way around a large track area!
  • Kirby’s Kids Corner – A special, outdoor space just for toddlers, with water play and toddler-sized trikes.
  • Wildlife Pond – Koi, mosquito fish, and others make their homes in this serene pond.

Educational programs

Daily activities and programs happen at the museum and include projects such as leaf rubbing in an outdoor garden, watercolor painting, interactive music and movement, story time.

Monthly workshops and classes are available for kids to further explore natural science, the arts and music.

Kidspace runs annual events involving the greater Los Angeles community:

  • Caterpillar Adoption Days (in March/April) invites children to adopt their own caterpillar and observe its metamorphosis, eventually letting the butterfly into the wild.
  • The annual Pumpkin Festival is a community festival for families held each October, featuring carnival games, a pumpkin patch, live performances and food.
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