Madison Children's Museum's blog: news and musings about the museum, issues in the field, and the American Girl Benefit Sale.
Madison’s only existing, historic log cabin was lifted off of its foundation on March 3, in preparation for its move to a storage lot on E. Washington Ave.
The Log Cabin dates back to around 1838 and is among the oldest surviving dwellings in the state. It arrived at Madison Children’s Museum just before the museum opened at its current location and was restored on site. The 288 sq ft. (16’x18′) cabin became a popular exhibit, visited by tens of thousands of children in the roughly ten years it was open.
The Cabin was located behind the museum at the corner of Dayton and Hamilton streets. It sat on the deck of the museum’s former parking lot, set into a period-correct landscaped and planted yard. The parking lot had deteriorated over the years to the point that it could not be used, and the museum was actively planning to repurpose that space. In 2019 the cabin was closed to visitors to prevent further deterioration of the parking structure. During the pandemic, the museum launched a new initiative, Our Future In Play, and part of that effort includes creating a new, 10,000-square-foot exhibit in the place of its former parking lot. The new exhibit will feature the historic cabin, an awe-inspiring climbing sculpture as centerpieces to a new outdoor play space, and assorted smaller hands-on exhibits and adventures.
While it is likely to return to a similar position in the new exhibit, the Log Cabin had to be moved to make way for demolition of the former parking lot and then new construction. The initiative also includes a fundraising effort to pay for that exhibit—as well as other necessities the museum requires to weather closure. The community has so far generously given over $3 million dollars toward the final goal of $4 million, which must be raised by the end of June 2021.
Recovery from the pandemic and the return to downtown and former activities will likely be slow in spring and summer, with a continued emphasis on outdoor activities, increasing the need for an outdoor exhibit in all seasons.
This new exhibit will provide a safe place for all children to play, to come together once again from all neighborhoods. The exhibit aims to provide a fun, healthy outlet for getting young bodies in motion; a nurturing space where children can experience the healing power of play after a rough year or more; and a cultural anchor that draws families back to the square and the surrounding downtown. When the Log Cabin returns it will become an important part of this new exhibit’s year-round play space.
After being extracted and loaded on the truck, The Log Cabin will be transported to Reynolds Moving and Storage on E. Washington Ave., where it will spend the rest of the winter, spring, and early summer before the process is reversed and it is relocated back to the museum.