For the past 17 years, The Woodlands Children’s Museum has introduced young community members to cultural experiences by bringing art, science and music to life.
The Woodlands Children’s Museum was founded in 2001 by a group of mothers, as a “museum without walls,” Executive Director Angela Colton said. In 2005, the museum found its first brick-and-mortar location in Market Street before moving to The Woodlands Mall three years later.
In July 2010, the museum found its new home nestled in the Panther Creek Shopping Center, where it remains today.
“The mission of The Woodlands Children’s Museum is to educate, empower and excite children and their families through play, while instilling a lifelong sense of wonder and discovery,” Colton said. “[We fulfill] the community’s need for a safe and nurturing environment for young children to be exposed to culture, while also focusing on play.”
The museum is geared for children age 7 and younger and features a variety of exhibits, including The Market, Dream + Build designed by Imagination Playground, Water Play, Read-A-Lot Kingdom and Fire House, in addition to a playhouse, a theater, a dig pit and a designated toddler area.
One of the most popular exhibits in the museum is The Muse, a live exhibit where the museum presents a different art process and form on a daily basis.
“We really engage in art processes for children because, developmentally, this is where they are at this age,” Colton said. “They’re not really focused on the product, but it’s important to work towards the product. Because we also host adults, who like to see that desired end, we put a lot of thought into our art processes.”
Colton said the museum is also one of the few amenities in the area that offers the Engineering and Robotics Learned Young program, a program developed by engineers at NASA.
The museum also hosts workshops, geared for youths ages 4-10, and hosts special events regularly, many of which are included in the museum’s $6 day pass. Annual memberships start at $76 for a family of four, with a variety of other membership options available for grandparents and for families who travel regularly.
The museum has two party rooms, which can be reserved Friday through Sunday and offers six different party packages with a variety of themes and target age groups.
In addition to hosting children inside the museum, the nonprofit also offers outreach programs sponsored by local organizations, like Art Around the World, which allows the museum to bring their programming to students at Title I elementary schools and to patients at Texas Children’s Hospital, both in downtown Houston and in The Woodlands.
“Our causes are not for childhood diseases, but we make a difference in the lives of children every single day,” Colton said. “We may not know if a child is neglected or abused or has just gone through chemotherapy, but we know we’ve made a difference—that’s what I’m passionate about.”
The museum also brings these programs to community events throughout the year like The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival and Earth Day GreenUp 2018.
In March, Colton said children can look forward to Spring Breakation, which will host daily live entertainment, Sciencepalooza and workshops March 12-17 and EggTivities, which will celebrate Easter, March 30-31.
Colton said the museum is working to implement SAM—Sensory Ability Monday—Can Too, a program that will accommodate children who have been diagnosed with spectrum disorders or have sensory sensitivities.
The museum is also working on a total renovation of its toddler exhibit, which will have a “From Sea to Shore” theme, incorporating the museum’s 350-gallon aquarium. The new exhibit is expected to open this summer.
“A lot of people don’t realize we are a nonprofit, but we are,” Colton said. “We rely heavily on sponsorships, partnerships, donors, grants and volunteers to do what we do every day. We’re giving, and we need our community to give back to us, too.”
Having served as the museum’s executive director since 2008, Colton said she hopes to continue to bring culture to the children of The Woodlands for many years to come.
“We get sad when the children age out because we’ve watched them grow up here,” Colton said. “It’s a lot of work to do what we do here, but what adult would not want to see a child skipping out of a museum saying, ‘This is the best day of my life’? And that happens here every day.”