About a dozen years ago, Pat Baker took her young granddaughter to the Discovery Center of Idaho.
Her granddaughter was entranced by a pretend grocery store exhibit, and probably could have spent the entire day playing there.
The exhibit is long gone, but Baker didn’t forget that day. Since then, she has researched other children’s museums around the country. While her grandchildren explored the exhibits, Baker would talk to executive directors about what it would take to open a similar museum in the Treasure Valley.
“I knew eventually I was going to do this,” said Baker, a retired business owner.
Her work comes to fruition this weekend, as the Children’s Museum of Idaho opens its doors in Meridian, at 790 S. Progress Ave. A ribbon-cutting and open house is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday’s opening-day hours are 1 to 5 p.m.
A children’s museum caters to younger children, 2- to 8-year-olds, and emphasizes learning through make-believe. The exhibits are planned to match, such as a simulated airport, frontier outpost and dinosaur dig.
While the exhibits are geared toward the imagination, Baker believes the need for a children’s museum is real and tangible.
With 690,000 residents, including 100,000 children under the age of 10, she expects the new museum to draw at least 70,000 visitors in its first year. And she says that’s a conservative estimate, based on visitor numbers for children’s museums in similar metropolitan areas, such as Spokane, Wash., Ogden, Utah, and Reno, Nev.
Baker believes a children’s museum is especially important in Idaho, a state with limited pre-K options. “This will fill a little bit of that gap.”
The Children’s Museum of Idaho Inc. is applying for nonprofit 501c3 status.
About The Children’s Museum of Idaho
Location: 790 S. Progress Ave., Meridian.
Opening date: A ribbon-cutting and open house is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday. The museum will open for regular hours on Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $8 for adults and children 2 years old and up. Children under 2 are admitted free of charge.
Memberships: Members have unlimited admission and can take part in members-only morning and Tuesday evening hours. Memberships cost $85 for a parent and child, with additional children costing $25.
Cell phones: Parents are encouraged to leave phones and electronics at home.
For more information: Go to cmidaho.org