Milestones

  • 2013: Museum debuts new mission: To ignite and advance creative thinking for all children.
  • November 2012: Not-A-School becomes official – receives preschool licensing
  • October 2012: Rockwell Group releases and donates Imagination Playground 2.0 Block Set
  • October 2011: Museum has first day of Not-A-School Creative Enrichment Program, a drop-off program nurturing creativity in the arts, the sciences and environment for children ages 2.9 – 4.5.
  • April 2011: Imagination Playground opens
  • February 2011: At Discovery Forum, the launch of the Center for Childhood Creativity announced
  • September 2009: Museum launches Connections, a rigorously designed outreach program designed to shift the composition of Museum visitors to more accurately reflect the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • January 2007: Museum welcomes its three millionth visitor
  • August 2005: Wave Workshop opens
  • July 2004: Lookout Cove opens
  • December 2003: New art studios opens
  • October 2003: Discovery Theatre, Media Clubhouse, new Tot Spot and Entry Pavilion opens
  • 2002: Museum celebrates 15th anniversary and over 2.5 million visitors to date¾breaks ground on $19 million My Place by the Bay expansion and enhancement project
  • 2001: Museum announces $19 million campaign with $12 million pledged and a grant of $1 million from the Marin Community Foundation
  • 1998: Museum presents Remember The Children, Daniel’s Story in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • 1997: National collaboration with the Library of Congress on Adventures into Books: Gumby’s World exhibit
  • 1996: Museum is invited to join the Youth Museum Exhibit Collaborative
  • 1995: Museum opens the Tot Spot permanent exhibit
  • 1993: Museum becomes a member of Youth Alive, a national job training project for underserved teens
  • 1992: President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation selects the Museum for the National Historic Preservation Award
  • 1991: Museum moves to its current location at Fort Baker
  • 1988: Museum designs its first two permanent exhibits: The San Francisco Bay, Architecture and Design
  • 1987: Pilot site opens in Corte Madera

Museum History

Over twenty years ago, a group of four parents gathered to create a premier cultural institution focused on the vitally important early years of a child’s life. First developed in a small storefront space, the popularity of the pilot Bay Area Discovery Museum soon proved the need for a major children’s museum in the Bay Area. Broad community support fueled the 1991 award-winning conversion of a series of abandoned Army buildings in historic Fort Baker into a one-of-a-kind indoor and outdoor facility under the Golden Gate Bridge. 

In 2003, the community came together again with a major capital campaign to expand the Museum through renovations of most exhibitions, the creation of the immensely popular 2.5 acre outdoor exhibition Lookout Cove, and construction of a new entry building and theater. This increased capacity allows families reflecting the full economic, ethnic, and geographic diversity of our community to participate in a range of arts and science activities, celebrate our community's diverse cultural heritage, and investigate and learn to protect the natural environment. 

The Museum has grown dramatically over the past twenty years, with approximately 300,000 visitors annually enjoying its dynamic, child-centered learning environment. National grants, partnerships and media recognize the Museum as one of the best children’s museums in the country. In 2011, the Museum launched the Center for Childhood Creativity to pioneer new research, thought-leadership, and teacher training programs that advance creative thinking in all children—extending the impact beyond the Museum. With an emphasis on learning through play, we ignite and advance creative thinking for all children.

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