Children’s Museum at JBLM

The first children’s museum on a U.S. military installation – our Museum is a private non-profit funded by donations from our community.

Children’s Museum at JBLM

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

Museum Hours

In accordance with the State of Washington mandate and recommendations by the CDC, all guests aged 5+ are required and ages 3+ are highly recommended to wear a mask or face covering. Masks/face coverings must be cloth or disposable medical masks, fully cover the nose and mouth, and worn at all times. Medical exemptions, mesh masks, gators, bandanas, and masks with vents are not accepted. Face shields are welcome for those unable to wear a traditional mask.

** We are currently operating at a reduced capacity and we reach our capacity limits from time to time. Please be patient during this time as we strive to provide play for all of our guests. For any questions, you may reach us at 253.627.6031. 

In order to attend the Children’s Museum at JBLM, you must have a valid Base access pass.  Admission to Children’s Museum at JBLM does not include Base access.

New Hours Starting October 1

Public Hours

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

  • Daily Sessions from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Low sensory hours: Fridays 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Mondays

  • 1 – 5 p.m.

Member-only Hours

Military discount: 10% off Museum membership | Become a member here

Mondays

  • 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Saturday

  • 9 – 10 a.m.

Low Sensory Hours

Friday

  • 2 – 5 p.m.

Fall Programs

Play to Learn

  • Fridays from 10 – 11:30 a.m. | register here

Address

2275 Liggett Ave
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA 98433

While You Are Here

Strollers

Strollers are allowed in the Museum galleries and playscapes.  However, we do offer lobby stroller parking for your convenience. When your child is not physically in the stroller, please park your stroller somewhere out of high traffic areas.

Lock it up before you play

Lockers are available for storing your items.  Lockers are self-service and the cost is $0.25.

Food and Drink in the Museum

Social distancing is no longer required. Eating and drinking will be permitted in our cafes and lobbies.  Guest may remove their masks while actively eating and drinking, only.

Pay As You Will Admission

Admission to the Museum is called Pay As You Will which means that it is by donation only, where families may choose to give whatever is right for them. This admission model began at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma in 2012 and is the only one of its kind among children’s museums in the nation.  It has been recognized with a national award from the Association of Children’s Museum and as a finalist for the IMLS National Medal of Honor. All donations made through Pay As You Will support the Museum and keep it accessible for every family in our community.

At the Children’s Museum at JBLM we believe play is the elemental component of children’s learning. Our playscapes engage young children ages birth to 12 and their adult caregivers in self-directed play through innovative design that celebrates imagination and encourages creativity.

The museum’s playscapes and programs support children’s growth through play by addressing age-appropriate development, especially in the areas of creativity, social and emotional skills, cognitive and critical thinking skills, gross and fine motor development, and early literacy learning.

Core early childhood experiences form the platform for play in the Museum’s main areas: Forest, Water, Studio, Climb, Calm, Invention and Launch. 

PLEASE NOTE: For the safety of all our visitors, only adults accompanied by a child will be allowed in the galleries. We do offer guided tours of the galleries for interested adults based on staffing availability.

Forest

Upon entering the doors, visitors traipse through a noodle canopy hanging above and decide how thickly they want to dive into the various colors and textures.  Hear soft water sounds, and explore rippling light reminiscent of a water splash.

Water

Water is a powerful, sensorial, and fun experience for all ages, and this playscape builds upon and extends our daily experiences with water. As visitors manipulate materials and investigate falling, running, flooding, still, and overflowing vortices of water, they explore the physical properties of water.  What does it feel like?  What does it sound like?  How does it move?  What can it do when interacting with other forces or materials?  

Through experimentation, visitors become active scientists who interact with others, ask questions, test ideas, and formulate hypotheses. 

Note: We always recommend that visitors with young children bring a few extra pairs of clothes.

Calm

During focus groups and conversations with key partners, we learned that it would be important to provide a space for families to retreat from the big active play and discovery that will take place in the galleries. The beautiful, cozy atmosphere of Calm provides couches for family snuggles, re-centering activities with light and building, and assistive technology like weighted vests and hanging chairs.

Studio

Artists of all ages find their creative muse within the Studio.  From painting at easels, to sculpting, to collaboratively adding artistic touches to a grand-scale whimsical object, process-based creativity converges. A favorite experience are the light projector tables, which allow exploration of concepts of translucency and transparency, all while marveling at the properties of light, color, and shadow. The projected images on the screens above create a presentation space for dramatic performances and engaged audiences. 

Within the Maker’s Studio visitors are invited to make, tinker, and create with STEAM activities. Hoppers brim with recycled materials and workstations are equipped with authentic tools. Children and adults will playfully engage in designing, engineering, and building as they bring a plan into 3-D form.

Invention

Invention features a fantastical vessel to climb, explore and pretend to power.  While we’re not sure exactly what this vessel is, it’s a little vehicle-ish, aircraft-ish, dragonfly-ish, we know that it has the power to take children on the journeys of their imagination.  

The Wind wall offers three panels of fans and lights that visitors control with three levers.  Once activated, lights and wind commence.  Mirrors, props and costumes create an invitation to observe and directly interact with the power of air.

Launch

Launch offers opportunities for engineering paper creations and experimenting with how they react in a wind tunnel or blast off of an air-powered rocket launcher, delighting in the trajectory of their flying creation. Engaging in dynamic scientific inquiry, and repeated experimentation will foster further modification and adaptation of design.

Climber

Climb

Children, school age friends, and adults alike will delight in this big-body, kinesthetic structure. Climbing platforms make this structure accessible for every ability and talk tubes throughout layer imaginative play opportunities.

The First Of Its Kind

We are excited by this partnership with Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Command that has created 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 is 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

CURRENT NEED

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

OUR RESPONSE

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

MUSEUM DETAILS

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 jgriek@playtacoma.org or 253.627.6031 x223