Madison Children's Museum and the Creative Life {Favorite Finds Friday}

Some places just have it – and the Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is one of them.  Last week my 30 toes and I had the delight of spending an afternoon discovering, playing and creating at this gem.  If you have read my {favorite finds} before you know that I am a lover of Wisconsin and this find was just further affirmation of that love.

Located just off the Capital Mall in the heart of Madison, MCM is three floors of pure magic designed for ages birth to 12; although I would offer that birth and older would be more appropriate, as they truly hold something for everyone.   The space is not huge, but takes full advantage of its urban home.  With six exhibit areas it provides opportunities for exploration and discovery through play, art, hands-on activities, history and exposure to the natural world; fulfilling its mission to: connect children with their families, their community and the world beyond through discovery learning and creative play. 

This is the kind of place that encapsulates the nature of discovery, teaching not only the direct lessons to be found within its walls but the principles of living with exploratory eyes in the world at large. 

My journey back to my artist-self has been discovered in part along with the process of learning and integrating the ideals that I want to instill in my children.  I want them to see a world of creative possibility, not necessarily to create artists of them but to teach the value of imagination and discovery in any of their pursuits.  I want them to experience life as an adventure, to value small adventures as well as big ones and to value who they are.  

Near the end of last year I began reading Lisa Congdon’s book Art Inc.  One of her early tenants is the idea that in order to make authentic work one must make work according to one’s own values.

Make work according to your values................................light bulb moment!

I had to ask myself, what are my values?

I was relieved and happy to discover that this was actually an easy question to answer.  And my realization answered another long standing question, one that I have grappled with since becoming a parent.  How to reconcile my decision to be a stay-at-home parent against my need for creative expression and professionalism?????????

I have traversed my mental globe in trying to sort this out, but nothing prior to the question of values has ever made it so clear. I knew almost instantly that I have two core values: I am an artist and I believe, at this time in the development of my family, choosing to be stay-at-home parent is important.   DONE!

And what came of this?  The very simple recognition that these two values are absolutely inclusive of each other.   And therefore I can live a creative lifestyle that integrates the exploration and making of my own work and an exploration of the world alongside my 30 creative and curious toes.

DONE!  Personal angst subsided, career choices simplified, extraneous commitments released, developing creative path fully embraced. 

Simple?  Yes I suppose, I never would have thought that one of my strongest emotional struggles could have been resolved in such a straightforward manner.  Although it was a resolution a long time in coming, it seemed to arrive suddenly, and when it did I was free. 

Thank you.

And now enter Madison Children’s Museum, a place that facilitates just the kind of exploration I value, that I want to share with and provide for my curious, growing children.  It is in such a place that I find the full integration of this creative life.  The experience and the journey. 

It is not just within the walls of a place that we make discovery, but on our journey to those walls, a stop to take photographs, the view of a frozen lake, our walk along the city sidewalk, the coffee shop at the end of the day, our conversations about all of it and the inspiration to write these words. 

With gratitude,


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