Holyoke Children’s Museum

The museum began as a pilot project of the Junior League of Holyoke, today known as the Holyoke-Chicopee-Springfield Head Start. In the year after the destructive fire that razed the William Skinner and Sons mill complex next to City Hall, the Department of Environmental Management began drawing up plans for a new state park on the site, part of the Heritage Parks program inspired by Lowell Heritage State Park. Hoping to make a children’s museum a part of the Heritage Park Project, the Junior League of Holyoke opened a pilot version of the museum to crowds on September 27, 1981, in a renovated storefront at 171 High Street. Modeled on the Boston Children’s Museum, the prototype had four exhibits, a mock-up of a firetruck by local carpenter Jay Mulcahy, a mock post office, a paper mill exhibit where volunteers would blend wood pulp for children to make their own paper sheets, and a small linocut print shop.

Although it would be several more years before the museum would relocate to Holyoke Heritage Park, the pilot proved to be a success and in the following year the museum moved to its first permanent home, 15 Papineau Street, at the old Springdale School. In its early years the museum would try several different exhibits, in part designed to foster empathy toward the disabled. Among these was a 1983 temporary exhibit introducing children to disability studies with activities such as having children attempt to tie their shoes wearing oversized gloves, riding different wheelchairs, attempting to read in braille, and completing various puzzles while blindfolded. Other examples included an animal exhibit introducing children to hamsters, rabbits, and other pets loaned to the museum by a local pet store, “Fins, Feathers and Furs”, as well as demonstration of the work and training of seeing-eye and hearing dogs. In its first several years the museum would also incorporate exhibits celebrating different cultures, including events such as demonstrations of cooking Indian food, and Irish dancing. On August 9, 1984, the museum officially incorporated as a separate nonprofit entity from the Junior League, as Children’s Museum at Holyoke, Inc. The museum would finally begin its move to Holyoke Heritage State Park with a groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of the Sheldon Building, a storage building of the former Skinner Silk Mills, on November 9, 1985. Almost two years later, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on the evening of June 5, 1987, along with another ceremony for opening of the Volleyball Hall of Fame in the same building; the museum opened to visitors with regular hours the following day. Don’t forget to check out this place in Holyoke too.

Set right in the heart of Downtown Holyoke, this children’s museum opened its doors in 1981.A visit to this museum is, hands down, one of the can’t-miss fun things to do in Holyoke for families.Not only is it filled with exciting exhibits, but it’s quite educational for the little ones too.As a bonus, it rests near the most captivating restaurants and downtown spots to visit.Let the kids run wild, and experience its exhibits, like the Art Studio, Cityscape Replicas and Curvy Climber.The Children’s Museum at Holyoke is dedicated to its mission to enhance the educational and cultural awareness of all children through the arts, the sciences, and the world around them. The Museum features participatory exhibits that invite interaction and programs which promote learning and self-discovery. Parents and adults who accompany children to the Museum are strongly encouraged to participate in the exhibits and have fun and enjoy the amazement through the little ones eyes. The Children’s Museum at Holyoke is a children’s museum in Holyoke, Massachusetts, featuring participatory art, exhibits related to science, daily life, and an elaborate climbing area. The museum is located Downtown, within Holyoke Heritage State Park, in the renovated Sheldon Building of the former William Skinner and Sons silk mill complex. If you are ever in need of a cabinet maker, click here.


34 Front St. Door #18, Springfield, MA 01151, United States

(413) 455-5408


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