Fairbanks Children’s Museum builds outdoor play space

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Abigail Van Patter and Brenda Riley move wooden beams into the Fairbanks Children’s Museum on Thursday, June 29. The beams will be part of a new outdoor play space. 

“There are no play spaces in downtown Fairbanks for children,” said Brenda Riley, executive director of the Fairbanks Children Museum. “But there will be soon.”

Beginning on Saturday, July 8, the team at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum will begin construction on an outdoor play space. The space will feature an interactive natural river rock play space where children can practice climbing, building and balancing. There will also be outdoor seating for families. 

The staff of the FCM hopes to turn a closed-off stretch of Turner Street into a creative space for outdoor activities. The primary entrance to the museum is via the former avenue which is a stretch of concrete that, according to the museum, is the width of three lanes and includes utility boxes, a long rock-strip and a small wall.

“By painting the existing concrete for running, skipping, and racing prompts, children will interact with each other in a creative outdoor play space,” Riley said.

The new outdoor exhibit will be open to the public and is not limited to children attending the museum. The museum received funding for the project thanks to a grant from the Awesome Foundation.

The City of Fairbanks has also granted the museum several concrete planters to use as traffic barriers to help create a safe zone for the enclosure.

“While [the planters] address the safety issue, we would like to create a vibrant and colorful outdoor location for our guests and summer campers to freely play,” Riley added.

Jessica Farr, Education & Community Outreach Manager at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum, interacts with museum attendees during a summer camp.

The Fairbanks Children’s Museum, a non-profit family community resource, provides nearly 40,000 annual visitors a space where local children can learn while sparking creativity. The museum has created an indoor environment for young children and families to explore and create together in the former Woolworths building in downtown Fairbanks. 

When it comes to new exhibits, Riley says that adding them is a process. “As with any good museum exhibit or program our spaces are constantly evolving and changing, the process is never over,” she said.

The museum is looking for volunteers to help build the play space.