Striking a Chord in Baraboo: How a Children's Museum Became a Haven for Playful Learning and Music

When residents of Baraboo in Wisconsin decided to set up their own children's museum, they agreed on a mission to 'provide playful experiences that inspire and educate every child.' Today, this interactive museum in the heart of a small town with 13,000 residents is doing just this, and now with inclusive musical instruments!

Jed Crouse, the Director and founder, was visiting a children's museum and questioned why his hometown didn't have a museum dedicated to children.

Almost five years later, Jed and his colleagues are running the thriving and much-needed museum that serves their community.

Setting up the non-profit museum saw the founders work with the local community to try out their concept of what the museum should look like. A pop-up shop was created until they secured an old grocery store for the site. Today, the museum has its own children's grocery store, police station, and diner – a mini town where children can play make-believe, role-play, and learn through play.

The BCM Music Lab, designed for interactive play, now includes three new instruments located inside. Although the Baraboo Children's Museum has no outdoor space, they realized that Percussion Play's outdoor musical instruments would be a great fit both inside and outside. Although museum staff were worried that a Music Lab might be problematic in terms of the instruments' volume, the instruments' soft tone means music 'wafts' throughout the museum, creating a calming atmosphere.

The Rainbow Trio Ensemble was fixed to the wall in the lab and includes a set of Rainbow Chimes, a Rainbow Metallophone and a set of Rainbow Bongos. Founder Jed Crouse says, "We wanted really interactive instruments, so we agreed upon the chimes and bongos. Children can play with the bongos just with their hands or use the mallets provided. We love them being mounted on the wall so children can play alongside one another or their parents and caregivers."

Quality and durability drew BCM to Percussion Play. Jed says, "Children aren't destructive, but they can play hard! We knew that being outdoor instruments, they would hold up to children playing them day in and day out!"

The museum sees children from preschool through older children who stop by after school. The Music Lab is a draw for everyone and creates playful family experiences. Indeed, the museum's intent is to encourage intergenerational play. Jed says, "We love seeing family members who are musically minded stop by and create music with their little ones. It's the start of the child's musical education."