Children's Museum of Rock County logo

Let's Play Together!

Support the Capital Campaign to bring a Children’s Museum to Downtown Janesville

The Board of Directors is excited to embark upon this adventure of building a children’s museum in the heart of our community and we hope you will join us in this endeavor.

CMRC Campaign Progress Tracker
Campaign video thumbnail
Play Video about Campaign video thumbnail

Everyone For The Kids

The Children’s Museum will be a crucial learning space for our community. Support the project to build a permanent children’s museum in downtown Janesville by being part of the Everyone For The Kids campaign.

Everyone For The Kids is a community fundraising effort to give every individual, household, business, and family an opportunity to be part of this impactful project. Gifts made to the Everyone For The Kids campaign are made at the $5,000 level and can be paid in full or spaced out annually or monthly.

As a campaign contributor, you will receive:

What Does Your Gift Support?

Everyone For The Kids supporters recognize the value a children’s museum will bring to building the brains and bodies of the next generation of Janesville and Rock County. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves and know we need people at all levels to support this project.

Gifts to the Everyone For The Kids campaign will support the creation of a permanent children’s museum with awe-inspiring, engaging, and educational spaces that spark curiosity and creativity while encouraging exploration and learning.

PLAY Is Our Mission

The mission of the Children’s Museum of Rock County is to promote the joy of learning through PLAY. Play is the language of children and it is the process through which they learn. By learning, children grow. By growing, children transform; they transform themselves and can transform the world around them. Supporting CMRC is supporting the future of Rock County.


Kids Learn By Doing.


Growth Is A Natural Outcome Of Learning.


By Learning And Growing, We Transform.

Community Impact

These are just a few examples of the positive impacts that a Children’s Museum would bring to Downtown Janesville and the community as a whole.

An Historic Building

The Museum project will result in the adaptive reuse of 100 W. Milwaukee Street - the historic First National Bank - which is an architectural cornerstone and important part of Janesville’s history. From the late nineteenth century until recently, the First National Bank and its successors were always one of the city’s most important financial institutions. We now intend to turn the City’s financial center into the learning center, crucial to our community’s vitality and future. We intend to preserve the exterior of the building and make it the visual anchor for our museum.

26,012 Children

The target age group for the museum is ages 0-8, with additional opportunities to engage ages 9-12. There are currently 26,012 children aged 0-12 in Rock County, which is projected to increase slightly in the next 5 years. While additional age groups will benefit from the Children’s Museum, the young children are a crucial demographic. We can directly impact more than 26,000 local lives.

Source: ConsultEcon Study: Resident Market Area School Age Children Profile, 2019-2024 Table III-3

$4.26M in Annual Economic Impact

The average visitor spends $50 beyond the cost of admission in nearby restaurants and shops when they visit local attractions while the average out-of-town visitor who stays overnight spends an additional $150 on hotel accomodations. Taken together, spillover spending from local and non-local visitors translates into a total annual economic impact of $4.26M.

Source: ConsultEcon Study: Stabilized Attendance Potential, Table V-1, and Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau statistics


The Children’s Museum will be open year-round, seven days a week with closure on selected holidays. This operating schedule is typical of children’s museums around the country, and especially here in Wisconsin. Currently, there are few area attractions open on Mondays. The Children’s Museum will be able to bridge this gap, along with driving consistent foot traffic into our community on a regular basis.

22.2 % of our Community

The Children’s Museum’s target market is school age children, both as part of school groups and together with their families. With 22.2% of Rock County’s population being school age, CMRC has the potential to serve about a quarter of our community.

Source: ConsultEcon Study: ConsultEcon Resident Market Area Profile 2020, Table III-2

81,000 Annual Visitors

Stable year attendance achieved in Year 3 of operations. Attendance in Years 1 & 2 is projected to be 10-15% higher. For context, Rotary Botanical Gardens, Rock County’s largest visitor attraction, has 100,000 visitors per year; 60,000 of which attend the Holiday Light Show. The Children’s Museum’s 81,000 visitors spread over seven days per week will be a game-changer for downtown.

Up To 12,000 Children from Low to Moderate Income Households

PLAY is inclusive. Through free or reduced cost memberships, CMRC will intentionally include all segments of our local population. Based on eligibility in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, there are more than 12,000 children living in Rock County who come from low to moderate income families. Without programs targeted to support them, they might be underserved by the Museum.

Source: NCES 2018 Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Data Study for Rock County reporting Free and Reduced Lunch Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Click any question to reveal its answer.

A children’s museum is an interactive environment with a variety of hands-on experiences that engage brains and move bodies. It is a place built specifically for kids and their developmental needs, curated in such a way that it is inviting, inspiring, fun, and playful.

The content and experiences in the typical children’s museum are targeted to ages 0-12, both on the exhibit floor and through program offerings. While we intend to focus heavily on ages 0-12 to remain operationally strong, we understand the need for quality learning opportunities for Rock County youth ages 13-18. The Children’s Museum will work to meet the needs of this older population through flexible spaces in the Museum and diverse program offerings that respond to and resonate with these ages.

While Rock County is a good place to raise a family in terms of affordability, we do not have the same number of family recreation outlets or educational enrichment opportunities compared to other communities of our size. A children’s museum is essential for enhancing our quality of life, investing in our children, retaining local talent, and recruiting new faces to keep our community growing.

At present, caregivers regularly leave Rock County to drive to one of four children’s museums located within an hour’s drive. These options include: The Madison Children’s Museum (Madison, WI), Explore Children’s Museum (Sun Prairie, WI), Black Earth Children’s Museum (Black Earth, WI), and the Discovery Center (Rockford, IL). If there was a Rock County option to patronize, they would stay local. The average local visitor to the Children’s Museum of Rock County is expected to spend an additional $50 beyond the cost of admission in nearby restaurants and shops. With 76,800 visitors expected to be local, that translates into an annual economic impact of $3.84 million to our community (Statistics Prepared by the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau). Without a children’s museum in Rock County, those dollars will be spent elsewhere. And, those experiences will occur outside of our borders, making people wonder if Rock County should really be the choice for their family.

When looking at Rock County in terms of setting children up for life success, a children’s museum can be a fantastic tool. Rock County has the lowest percentage of people with a Bachelor’s degree or higher (24.2% for ages 25+) and the lowest median income ($65,518) compared to its surrounding peer counties of Dane, Green, Jefferson, and Walworth (US Census Bureau, 2020). Rock County also has the highest proportion of people reporting four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) out of all 72 counties in the state (Community Health Assessment, Health Equity Alliance of Rock County, 2021). That means, 25% of our county’s population – an incredibly high percentage and the highest in the state – has experienced traumatic events during childhood from ages 0-17, the effects of which can last a lifetime and have a significant impact on life outcomes. Compared to someone with zero “yes” answers to the ACE questions, a person who answers “yes” four or more times is 6 times more likely to struggle with depression; 7 times more likely to become alcoholic; 10 times more likely to inject street drugs, and 12 times more likely to attempt suicide. They’re also twice as likely to have heart disease and twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer. The more “yes” answers a person has to the ACE questions, those odds increase exponentially. People with high ACE scores are also less likely to maintain relationships, collaborate at work, or hold a job. They’re also more likely to end up in foster care, homeless or in jail (“Impact of Childhood Trauma Reaches Rural Wisconsin,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 30, 2017).

When these data points are looked at in relation to one another, Rock County has a high incidence of trauma along with lower education levels and lower earnings. While a children’s museum cannot fix all these issues, providing a safe space that sparks interest, nurtures a love of life-long learning, and promotes strong child-caregiver relationships can have a deep effect on Rock County’s future.

Play is the language of children and it is the process through which they learn. Playing is central for holistic child development and supports its five central domains: cognition, social interaction and emotional regulation, speech and language, physical skills, and sensory awareness.

  • Cognition: Through play, children explore objects and their environment while having the ability to create and test possibilities. When children had extended periods of uninterrupted time (30 minutes or more) to engage in play that was relevant and meaningful to their lives, attention span and memory skills were enhanced (Center for Inclusive Childcare, 2020).

  • Social Interaction and Emotional Regulation: Children learn to share cooperate, work through conflict, and develop personal emotional regulation when playing. Countries that don’t invest in social-emotional learning programs are 29% less productive that those that do. Students who took part in social-emotional learning programs outperformed students who didn’t by 11 percentage points (Rethinking Learning, UNESCO, 2020).

  • Speech and Language: Play enables caregivers to introduce new words that build a child’s vocabulary and their understanding of words (nouns, verbs, adjectives). When children play together, they learn the rhythms of speech and the give-and-take of conversation. By preschool, a child’s language skills can usually predict a student’s academic trajectory (American Journal of Speech and Language, 2011).

  • Physical Skills: Strong gross motor and fine motor skills are inseparable from brain development. The more the body moves, the more the brain develops. The physical movements of gross motor play require coordination from both the left and right brain. That coordination demands interaction between the two hemispheres, resulting in strengthened neural pathways. Strong neural pathways lay the foundation for further development in language, literacy, and math skills (Penn State University, 2020). When children engage in fine motor play, they refine their small muscle control and strengthen their visual-spatial skills. Visual-spatial skills are a well-known predictor of academic achievement, particularly in the areas of STEM learning (Psychology Today, 2017).

  • Sensory Awareness: Sensory play engages a child’s senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell) and develops their sensory system, along with their proprioceptive, and vestibular systems. Proprioception relates to body awareness (where our bodies are in space) and the vestibular system relates to balance (where our bodies are in relation to gravity). Developing these information processing systems has a direct effect on brain development. Additionally, the exploratory nature of sensory play encourages creativity, problem-solving, and communication.

No! Play is ageless. Our hope is that the Museum engages and inspires adults as much as it does children and youth. We are designing the Museum with interaction and attachment in mind, from the exhibits to the spaces. Adults will be encouraged to play alongside their children in spaces that accommodate their size. Many of the exhibits will provide opportunities for collaboration, facilitating intergenerational play. The addition of flex spaces will create the possibility to host adult programming and experiences.

We are working with a museum designer to create an aesthetic that resonates just as much with adults as it does with children. As the center of PLAY in Rock County, we want the building to evoke a sense of fun, creativity, and excitement. It will be perfect for PLAYful after-hours, organizational, or corporate events.