Clayton Early Learning

Exciting Expansion at Children’s Museum of Denver

Candice Leary-Humphrey

When staff at Clayton Early Learning heard about a major expansion project at the Children’s Museum of Denver, we reached out to our friends at the museum to learn more! The museum’s Associate Director of Marketing and Memberships, Zoe Ocampo, gave us tons of exciting updates to share so that your family won’t miss out on any of the fun new exhibits that have been recently added or are scheduled to open later this year.

The Children’s Museum of Denver is already packed with great activities for children and families! What inspired this expansion project?

ZO: We’re glad that Colorado families enjoy visiting the museum and we want to be sure that we have plenty to see and experience for everyone that comes through our doors. As museum attendance has continued to grow (74% since 2003), we knew that we would need get bigger, too! For the last 7 years, we’ve committed to serious planning that’s included site visits, feasibility studies, consulting with community partners and a lot of fundraising. Ultimately, this is a $16.1 million expansion project that will more than double the size of the museum!

What kinds of new exhibits can we look forward to? Are any of them open yet?

Joy Park: An Outdoor Adventure is definitely my favorite exhibit that’s come from the expansion and it’s already open to the public. This exhibit is a giant, invigorating outdoor experience where children are immersed in unstructured, imaginative and independent play. There are awesome features including canyons, rivers, a fort building station and even a zip line! Joy Park is my favorite because it’s a total throw back to the days when kids could play outside until dark all on their own. Times have changed, but the need for open-ended play hasn’t; so we created a safe and exciting space where children could explore and imagine the way that many of today’s adults recall from their own childhoods.

Village of Healthy Smiles is also open now. This exhibit was designed to captivate imaginations while teaching kids and their grown-ups about the importance of dental health in a way that is fun and engaging. In the Village of Healthy Smiles, families really love “The Brush Together Cottage,” “The Tooth Fairy’s Workshop” and “Sugar Bugs Plaza.” Like all of our exhibits, this is a great example of how children learn through play and hands-on experiences.

The rest of our new exhibits are still being built, but they will be completed later this year. Here’s a sneak peek at the new exhibits that families can look forward to:

The Art Studio will be a 2,300 square-foot interactive art exhibit and gallery where guests will experience visual art with raw materials, a clay studio, collaborative painting projects, art-rich programming and a year-round Colorado artist-in-residence program.

The Teaching Kitchen provides a fully functioning kitchen where visitors will enjoy container gardens and an aquaponics system that teaches children about where their food comes from and invites families to prepare healthy foods together.140327_Childrens-Museum-Front

Then there are element exhibits that each focus on a different facet of our environment:

 Energy is a space where children will find, collect and use resources like wind, solar and fossil fuel through activity stations like rocket launching and a one-of-a-kind whoopee cushion wall!

Water is a 2,200 square-foot hands-in laboratory that replicates an urban water system. Young scientists will have myriad of opportunities to explore the properties of water, investigate flow and test complex ideas about buoyancy, density, displacement and cause and effect.

Altitude is a 3 ½ story vertical climbing structure that brings a Colorado mountain adventure right into the city. This exhibit offers a gondola, swaying rope bridges, hovering clouds and an ice-capped summit. After experiencing the Altitude exhibit, parents may discover that they have a climber-in-training on their hands!

Wow! We have a feeling that families will be really excited to visit Children’s Museum of Denver after reading about all of these new and upcoming exhibits. What tips can you offer for families when planning their visit?

ZO: Even though many of the new exhibits aren’t open yet, families should definitely come and check out Joy Park and our Village of Healthy Smiles while we continue working on the rest of the expansion. One insider tip for grown-ups is that if they’re looking to beat the crowds, sunny days tend to be our slowest times; although, with Joy Park open, that may change!. Also, a lot of families don’t realize that we’re open late on Wednesday nights-until 7:30pm! So Wednesdays can be a great time to stop in after school or work. I think that the most important tip for adults to remember is that the museum is designed to be fun for the whole family; not just kids! Parents and caregivers should definitely let themselves have fun with their children in our awesome exhibits. Not only is Children’s Museum of Denver a great place for children to play and learn, it’s also full of interesting facts for adults and provides a unique environment where children and their grown-ups can create amazing memories and discover new interests to share with each other.    

Thanks for all of this great information Zoe. We can’t wait to watch as the expansion continues to take shape!

Children’s Museum of Denver is a proud partner and participating site for the City of Denver’s 5 By 5 Program. For more information about this resource for families, click here.

To learn more about the Children’s Museum of Denver expansion and to read other museum announcements, visit

CMD Joy Park

Heavy work and water play is just one component of the new Joy Park exhibit at Children's Museum of Denver.


Candice Leary-Humphrey

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