Play is on Base

Play is on Base

Introducing the first children’s museum on a U.S. military installation in the world.

Opening in 2021

Children’s Museum at JBLM opens April 24, 2021.  Check back soon for more information about how to reserve your ticket to play.

We are excited to announce a partnership with Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Command that will result in the first children’s museum on a U.S. military installation in the world.  This new location, in the center of a lifestyle center next to Freedom Park on Liggett Ave, will continue to build upon relationships established through our Play to Learn programming on JBLM, and will be designed to serve children and their families, with an emphasis on early learners, those experiencing special needs, and reintegration of our military into family life.

This project is supported by the JBLM Command, as well as a $4.8 million effort by supporters of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma as part of the $10 million More than a Museum Campaign.

“We believe that the Children’s Museum of Tacoma on Base will be the center of family life on post – an oasis where kids can have fun and learn through play, and a place where parents feel supported.” – Diane Dimmer, Executive Director of Dimmer Foundation


JBLM leadership has identified gaps in enrichment opportunities and support for young families:

  • JBLM is the largest family base in the United States
  • Many families struggle to access resources off base
  • JBLM has the highest concentration of children experiencing special needs on a U.S. military base, at 22%
  • Military life can compromise children’s emotional and behavioral development, and lower levels of parent-child attachment
  • Parents often lack a sense of community and spaces/opportunities to gather


Play is a natural, proven remedy for children’s stress and a critical method of developing and strengthening parental attachment. Museums are neutral, welcoming gathering spaces that build a sense of community. During our years on JBLM through our Play to Learn program, as well as our research through family focus groups and surveys, we will strategically address these needs by:

  • Creating the world’s first children’s museum on a U.S. military installation
  • Working with JBLM leadership and families to tailor and develop programs to best meet the diverse needs of military families and children
  • Carefully preparing playscapes, staff, and programs to engage and support children experiencing special needs and their families
  • Providing increased opportunities for children to grow through play, for families to connect and strengthen relationships, and for parents to build their social network of support
  • Extending access of Pay As You Will on base, ensuring financial barriers won’t limit a family’s ability to visit

“Cal and I are pleased to serve as honorary chairs of the More Than a Museum campaign. We have been long- time supporters of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and believe that the Museum’s mission of honoring children and championing play is a vital component of a livable and vibrant community. This campaign will take the Museum to the next level of its innovation,  growth and sustainability” – Joanne Bamford


The Museum has a well-established relationship with both military leadership and military families through its long-running Play to Learn program. We are uniquely positioned to fill the current gaps in needs, and to plan for future requests for our military families. The new children’s museum on base will be centrally located within the “Freedom Center,” the new town center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord which also includes a spray park, skate park, shopping, restaurants, and movie theater. The children’s museum will be:

  • Focused on early learners, with programming to focus on special needs families
  • Accessible by bus, with plentiful, accessible parking
  • Office space for MWR Children and Youth Services
  • A 24/7 neutral gathering space in times of crisis for military spouses and families
  • A collaborative opportunity with community engagement organizations currently operating on JBLM

Do you have any questions, or would like to get involved? Please contact Jennie Griek, Development Director, at or 253.627.6031 x223