Baraboo Children’s Museum secures permanent home

December 28, 2018

Finding a new location is becoming old hat to Baraboo’s “museum on the move.”

The Baraboo Children’s Museum debuted this summer at community events, found a temporary home downtown as a pop-up shop this fall and in the new year will move into a vacant grocery store building on the east side.

The nonprofit will close at 203 Fourth St. on Saturday and take up residence in the former Darrow’s store at 1212 Eighth St. this spring. It will share the building with Elite Twisters Gymnastics, which is relocating from the former McArthur Towel building on Moore Street.

Jed Crouse, who founded the museum with wife Traci, said the museum can’t reopen until it builds a wall dividing the building. He hopes to move in — and open new exhibits — by March.

“It was an amazing opportunity for us,” he said.

The museum serves kids ranging from infancy to age 12 with interactive exhibits teaching practical lessons through play. Since October it has occupied a commercial building at Fourth and Ash streets rent-free. It was chosen as one of Downtown Baraboo Inc.’s holiday season pop-up shops.

Crouse said he enjoyed being part of the downtown community, but the museum needed more space, better accessibility and an open floor plan. It’ll rent 9,000 square feet — nine times the size of its current location — at the Badger Ridge building, which has been vacant since Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore moved out four years ago.

“We don’t have the space that we need here, and this will give us space to grow,” Crouse said.

About 25 families purchased three-month “pop-up passes” while the museum was open downtown. Crouse said a larger facility will allow the museum to welcome school groups. He’s seeking donations to help pay for the wall.

In the long term the Crouses want daily admission fees to cover the bulk of the museum’s budget, but while it’s closed for the move it will rely on donor support through its website baraboochildrensmuseum.com.

“Getting that wall done is kind of the first big hurdle,” Crouse said.

He hopes the museum and the gymnastics facility will play a role in the city’s longstanding push to revitalize its east side.

“It’s kind of fun to be part of that storyline,” Crouse said.

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