At least once a week, Susan Escamillo makes the 45-mile drive from Wellington to bring her grandchildren to the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada in Carson City.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “It gives the kids something to do other than watch TV or play video games.”
Since its incorporation in 1988, the museum’s mission has been to give children that outlet.
“It’s someplace kids can go where they’re not always told, ‘no, no, no,’” explained Lu Olsen, executive director of the Children’s Museum. “They can play. They can touch things. They get a chance to explore their world.”
The museum’s 25th anniversary will be celebrated Saturday, beginning with a proclamation from Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell at 10 a.m.
Admission will be free, and people who sign up for memberships Saturday will get a discounted rate. Hot dogs and frozen yogurt will be served, and a bounce house and other activities will be offered. A new logo will also be unveiled.
Janet Baker, the museum’s marketing director, said the anniversary merits a grand celebration.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” she said. “In this day and age, to go through the economic times we’ve been through and still be open is an accomplishment.”
The museum opened an exhibit, “A Most Excellent Adventure,” at the Nevada State Museum in 1990.
Jenny Kilpatrick, then the president of the children museum’s board, wrote about its history for Richard Moreno’s “The Backyard Traveler.”
She wrote in 1991, describing the first display at the Nevada State Museum.
“State museum staff used their own ideas and ‘The Exploratorium Cookbook’ (a publication by San Francisco’s Exploratorium with ‘recipes’ explaining how to make many of its popular exhibits) to construct some fascinating exhibits,” she said. “Visitors can test their reaction time with Speed Trap, figure out the basics of electrical connections by putting together the electrical puzzles in Current Events, leave their shadow on a wall glowing with phosphorus in the Shadow Box and disorient themselves by peeking into the Incredible Shrinking Room.”
In 1994, the display became a permanent museum. It remains housed in the historic Carson City Civic Auditorium, which was built in 1939.
“All of this had to be remodeled,” Baker said. “Later on, they did the downstairs. They added meeting rooms, art room, birthday rooms and offices.”
A nonprofit organization, the museum operates without state or federal funding, relying on membership dues, donations and grants.
While many of the original displays remain, including Current Events and the Shadow Box, there have been several additions and upgrades, Olsen said.
Olsen, a former teacher, said the museum is aimed at supplementing what’s happening in the classroom.
“We make sure that what we’re doing here is going to be tied into the state standards as well,” she said.