The History of the Museum

In September 2003, after 12 years of planning, we opened our new $25 million home on Watson Island near Downtown Miami.

Over the past twenty years, we relocated and expanded our space several times in response to public involvement. In the mid-90’s, planning was initiated among community leaders for the construction our very own stand-alone building.

Miami Children’s Museum was established in 1983 as the Miami Youth Museum. Our first home was a 2,000 square foot facility located in a shopping center in West Kendall.

Key Events in the Museum's History

1983 Miami Youth Museum was founded by foreward thinking community leaders.

1985 The 2,000 square-foot Miami Youth Museum opens in a mall on Sunset Drive. Visitorship is 9,301.

1986 The Museum moves to a 4,000 square-foot facility in South Miami’s Bakery Centre. Visitorship is 10,525.

1987 Visitorship climbs to 18,871. The museum institutes its Community Outreach Program, which reaches 137,100 people.

1988 The museum increases its exhibition space by 2,000 square feet and visitorship grows to 26,165. Community outreach is expanded.

1990 The museum enlarges again, by 3,000 square feet and visitorship grows to 35,929. Community outreach serves 899,000 people.

1991 The museum reaches visitor capacity of 47,686, where it remains for five years and the museum receives its first State of Florida Cultural Facilities grant.

1992 The museum’s board plans to build a new facility. A capital campaign is initiated with a $1 million lead gift. The museum receives a prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Services grant.

1994 The museum receives additional State of Florida Cultural Facilities grants, now totaling nearly $2 million and the capital campaign continues to grow.

1996 Pending demolition of the Bakery Centre forces the museum to move temporarily to the Miracle Center as fund raising and planning for the new facility continues.

1996 A careful search and a partnership with Miami Dade County lead the museum’s board to secure a site at the Vizcaya Metro-Rail Station.

1997 The Miami Youth Museum changes its name to Miami Children’s Museum to distinguish it from its precursor and clarify its scope.

2000 Neighborhood opposition and the threat of protracted litigation caused the Board of Directors of Miami Children’s Museum to seek a new site for the building of its community treasure. A Leadership Committee to identify a new site was born, chaired by Alan Potamkin and Norman Braman, which raised $8.2 million by the end of 2000.

2001 The plans to build Miami Children’s Museum on a magnificent waterfront site on Watson Island were finalized.

2002 The State of Florida awarded $500,000 to the museum, bringing funding from the State to $2.4 million dollars. The campaign achieved over 90% of the goal, $16.1 million in the first six months of the year.

2003 The Miami Children’s Museum (MCM) opened in a new 56,500 square foot facility on Watson Island, near Downtown Miami.

2005 We received a grant of $500,000 from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs to support the build-out of our Charter School area, adding a total of 10 new classrooms to our facilities.

2006 In order to accommodate educational classroom programs, the build-out of the facility was completed, adding 10 educational classrooms.