The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, powered by Greentrike, is hands down one of the best things to do with your young children any time of year with an array of playscapes that combine learning with fun. Explore, climb, experiment or splash in the water at this play-driven museum, but the fun and learning has increasingly gone far beyond the Museum with programs like Play to Learn, Preschool Powered by Play, and The Muse: A Children’s Center, which is why the Museum graduated from being a museum to being an organization called Greentrike in 2019.

With this name change, Greentrike can continue in its mission to honor children and educational play and continue to grow. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma, staff and board will remain the same as it always has, though, and is now underneath the Greentrike umbrella.

Another facet of the Museum that will remain the same is its Pay As You Will admission, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you walk into the Children’s Museum during any open hours, you choose what to pay to enter, whether that’s $100, $10 or nothing at all.

Children's Museum of Tacoma
Exhibits at the Museum are play based and lots of fun! Photo courtesy: Children’s Museum of Tacoma

“It all comes down to our organization’s belief that play should be accessible for all children, regardless of financial barriers,” says Maddy Mixter, Communications Manager at Greentrike. “In the past we saw that a great number of families were taking advantage of free or discounted programs to come to the Museum, so with the support of our Board, we decided to remove that extra hoop completely.”

The Museum has been offering Pay As You Will admission since it moved to its current location on Pacific Avenue in January 2012, and will offer the same Pay As You Will structure at the new museum on JBLM when it opens in August 2020.

“Pay As You Will is an invitation – we don’t require any donation to play, but everyone is invited to contribute what they can and what is right for their family,” explains Mixter. “We don’t have a suggested donation amount, as any contributed amount is appreciated. However, we find that based on average attendance, it costs about $10 per person to facilitate, staff, and maintain the museum.” 

Children's Museum of Tacoma
When you arrive at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, you’ll check in at the front desk whether you donate or not. Photo courtesy: CMT

When you enter the museum, you’ll be greeted by a front desk. All museum visitors are required to check in at the desk so that the museum can track how many guests are visiting each day. You’ll be asked how many are in your group and will be invited to donate. If you don’t wish to or can’t afford to make a donation, you can simply decline with a “Not today!” or “No, thank you!” And that’s all there is to it. Or if you’d like to make a donation, choose your amount and the desk staff will get you checked in.

What’s especially interesting about the Pay As You Will model is that it is currently the only one its kind among children’s museums in the entire country!

“Many other museums and children’s museums operate certain free days or discounted programs for families, however we are still the only children’s museum to operate under this kind of admission model, every day, all day,” says Mixter. “We’ve seen other organizations take steps towards these types of admission models, like Yoga Wild with their sliding scale costs, and we hope more organizations join us!”

Children's Museum of Tacoma
Kids of all ages will find something to do and enjoy among the playscapes. Photo courtesy: Children’s Museum of Tacoma

Of course, the museum still has operating costs to cover and it does so by combining visitor donations with the support of sponsors, including US Bank, Puyallup Tribe of Indians Charity Trust, and founding sponsor Key Bank. The sponsors help ensure that the museum can offer Pay As You Will admission with no requirements or minimums. 

The Children’s Museum of Tacoma is located at 1501 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. You can learn more about the museum, its exhibits and more at the website. You can learn more about Greentrike both at the website and by watching this clip of Mixter and fellow staff member Alycia Melendez discussing what Greentrike is all about on CityLine.


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