mid 1970s

FOUNDING: In the mid 1970s, the Pawtucket JayCees and other community leaders began exploring the idea of opening Rhode Island’s first children’s museum in Pawtucket. They envisioned a lively learning center modeled on the established children’s museums of Boston and Brooklyn.

INCORPORATION: Local parents, educators and business people formed a committed group of volunteers and incorporated the Children’s Museum as a non-profit organization. The Pawtucket Congregational Church agreed to lease the Pitcher-Goff House, a 5,000 square foot Victorian on Pawtucket’s “Quality Hill,” to the fledgling museum.

1977

OPENING: Volunteers renovated the Pitcher-Goff House, raised funds, sewed curtains and costumes, built intriguing play spaces and, in June 1977, began welcoming excited children and curious adults.

1984

ESTRELLA: In 1984, Providence sculptor, illustrator, painter and storyteller Diana Jackson created the Museum’s beloved Estrella. She started off being called “Super Chairwoman.” Then the Museum had a name-giving contest for her and the name “Estrella” won. “Estrella” means Star.

1987

GROWTH: In 1987 Rhode Island’s Children’s Museum was a professionally staffed organization serving 50,000 visitors a year. It was attracting national attention as well as enthusiastic local support, and had become a leader in the rapidly growing children’s museum movement.

1990s

EXPANSION: By the 1990s, the Museum had outgrown its space and its leadership began planning for expansion and relocation. They entered into a purchase agreement for a 17,000 square foot former factory building in Providence’s historic Jewelry District and launched a $3 million capital campaign. The building was renovated for its new function as a learning center for children while its historic character was preserved. Museum designers and educators created 8,000 square feet of new interactive exhibits.

1995

AMERICORPS: The Providence Children’s Museum (PCM) “MuseumCorps” are founded in 1995 to deliver high-quality math learning experiences for children in out-of-school time, summer and preschool programs in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island.

DEVELOPMENT: The capital campaign surpassed its goal, raising a total of $3.3 million.

1997

OPENING: In October 1997, the renamed Providence Children’s Museum opened its new quarters at 100 South Street. With its move to the Jewelry District, the Museum tripled its physical space and audience numbers.

2008

RENOVATION: September 2008, PCM closed for 8 weeks to install Play Power, a major new exhibit celebrating the power of play, and complete extensive renovations to its historic building.

2010

PLAY WORKS: In 2010 the Museum completed the Play Works Campaign for Kids, successfully raising $1.5 million for capital projects, including three new learning environments and major capital improvements to its historic building. The Climber and Underland took shape.

PARTNERSHIPS: PCM’s commitment to serving children has led to partnerships with Head Start, RI Department of Children, Youth and Families, and community centers and schools throughout the state. The Museum has become an integral part of Rhode Island life, a place where children are nurtured and celebrated.

2016

NEW LEADERSHIP: In 2016, Caroline Payson became PCM’s new Executive Director – the second in 35 years. Previously the Director of Education of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Caroline was responsible for conveying the importance of design and design thinking in everyday life education programs for audiences including teachers, students, professional designers, scholars and the general public.

2018

CREATIVITY INITIATIVE: Providence Children’s Museum’s groundbreaking three-year project begins and seeks to connect all children to Rhode Island’s creative community. The Initiative includes a series of rotating exhibits developed in collaboration with local creatives and provides opportunities for families to engage with immersive environments.

2020

COVID-19: PCM closes its doors for 6 months, continuing to provide digital programming and resources online.

NEW BRAND: PCM contracts with design firm NAIL to create a new logo and brand identity.

About Us

History

mid 1970s

FOUNDING: In the mid 1970s, the Pawtucket JayCees and other community leaders began exploring the idea of opening Rhode Island’s first children’s museum in Pawtucket. They envisioned a lively learning center modeled on the established children’s museums of Boston and Brooklyn.

INCORPORATION: Local parents, educators and business people formed a committed group of volunteers and incorporated the Children’s Museum as a non-profit organization. The Pawtucket Congregational Church agreed to lease the Pitcher-Goff House, a 5,000 square foot Victorian on Pawtucket’s “Quality Hill,” to the fledgling museum.

1977

OPENING: Volunteers renovated the Pitcher-Goff House, raised funds, sewed curtains and costumes, built intriguing play spaces and, in June 1977, began welcoming excited children and curious adults.

1984

ESTRELLA: In 1984, Providence sculptor, illustrator, painter and storyteller Diana Jackson created the Museum’s beloved Estrella. She started off being called “Super Chairwoman.” Then the Museum had a name-giving contest for her and the name “Estrella” won. “Estrella” means Star.

1987

GROWTH: In 1987 Rhode Island’s Children’s Museum was a professionally staffed organization serving 50,000 visitors a year. It was attracting national attention as well as enthusiastic local support, and had become a leader in the rapidly growing children’s museum movement.

1990s

EXPANSION: By the 1990s, the Museum had outgrown its space and its leadership began planning for expansion and relocation. They entered into a purchase agreement for a 17,000 square foot former factory building in Providence’s historic Jewelry District and launched a $3 million capital campaign. The building was renovated for its new function as a learning center for children while its historic character was preserved. Museum designers and educators created 8,000 square feet of new interactive exhibits.

1995

AMERICORPS: The Providence Children’s Museum (PCM) “MuseumCorps” are founded in 1995 to deliver high-quality math learning experiences for children in out-of-school time, summer and preschool programs in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island.

DEVELOPMENT: The capital campaign surpassed its goal, raising a total of $3.3 million.

1997

OPENING: In October 1997, the renamed Providence Children’s Museum opened its new quarters at 100 South Street. With its move to the Jewelry District, the Museum tripled its physical space and audience numbers.

2008

RENOVATION: September 2008, PCM closed for 8 weeks to install Play Power, a major new exhibit celebrating the power of play, and complete extensive renovations to its historic building.

2010

PLAY WORKS: In 2010 the Museum completed the Play Works Campaign for Kids, successfully raising $1.5 million for capital projects, including three new learning environments and major capital improvements to its historic building. The Climber and Underland took shape.

PARTNERSHIPS: PCM’s commitment to serving children has led to partnerships with Head Start, RI Department of Children, Youth and Families, and community centers and schools throughout the state. The Museum has become an integral part of Rhode Island life, a place where children are nurtured and celebrated.

2016

NEW LEADERSHIP: In 2016, Caroline Payson became PCM’s new Executive Director – the second in 35 years. Previously the Director of Education of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Caroline was responsible for conveying the importance of design and design thinking in everyday life education programs for audiences including teachers, students, professional designers, scholars and the general public.

2018

CREATIVITY INITIATIVE: Providence Children’s Museum’s groundbreaking three-year project begins and seeks to connect all children to Rhode Island’s creative community. The Initiative includes a series of rotating exhibits developed in collaboration with local creatives and provides opportunities for families to engage with immersive environments.

2020

COVID-19: PCM closes its doors for 6 months, continuing to provide digital programming and resources online.

NEW BRAND: PCM contracts with design firm NAIL to create a new logo and brand identity.

About Us

Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning for all through play, creativity, and exploration.

Hours and Admissions

WEDNESDAY– SUNDAY
9:30am to 12:30pm and 
1:30pm or 4:30pm

Reservations are available online. Reserve your ticket now, a limited number of walk-up tickets will be available.

All staff and visitors ages 2 and up must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times. No exceptions can be made to this policy. Bandanas and neck gaiters are not acceptable mask substitutes.

Group Visits

Providence Children’s Museum is the ideal place for school field trips, camp outings, homeschool and community group trips and Scout excursions.

About Play

While society often overlooks and undervalues play, we are here to celebrate and elevate it. Because we know play isn’t frivolous. It’s foundational.

For Families

We’ve collected an extensive resource of creative activities that will engage kids and their caregivers wherever you may be.

PCM Lesson Plans

Check out our library of lesson plans for teachers and families. PCM has created a variety of lesson plans for teachers by teachers for children pre-k through early elementary.

Become a Partner

PCM has brought the magic of learning to life for over 40 years. As a trusted resource for families and children in southern New England, PCM is an anchor in our community.

More than a Museum

PCM is committed to serving the children of southern New England – regardless of their financial ability. 40% of the Museum’s budget is dedicated to welcoming one-third of the Museum’s total audience free of charge or at greatly reduced rates through a variety of outreach programs.

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