It’s no secret that growing up today is vastly different than it was even just 10 years ago. The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum in downtown Mansfield, Ohio, recognizes that kids don’t play like they used to, like running around the neighborhood, jumping in creeks and climbing trees. We’re all busy with work, school, activities, chores, practices… you name it. There’s not always that opportunity to just simply PLAY.
Little Buckeye gives children and their families the opportunity to run through the “neighborhood,” climb, play in water, and PLAY TOGETHER through interactive and imaginative exhibits, which is essential to the healthy development of a child.
We were able to chat with Fred Boll, Executive Director of the museum, to see what’s new and gather highlights of this valuable asset in our community.
The museum is two stories and offers 28 exhibits for children ages 2-12. There’s a wide variety of hands-on activities to enjoy such as the water table area, Little Market, a tree house, Little Salon and Little Ren on the first floor, with the most recent addition being the Adena Axis construction zone. The second floor houses Little McDonalds, Three Little Bear’s House, the Dentist’s Chair, Blue Optimist Room (life-sized blue legos) and train room, just to name a few.
Boll commented “There’s something special about all of the exhibits, but I love the exhibits where I get to see parents and children interact like our dentist and beauty shop exhibits. I see a lot of parents getting their hair cut or doing their child’s hair.”
New Exhibit Coming Soon
Coming in the next 3-4 weeks will be a new nature exhibit. This will be taking over the previous insect room. “There’s going to be a camping scene, and more of a variety than just insects. We’ll also feature mammals and birds.” With Winter approaching, this will be a great spot to feel like you’re on a family camping trip!
A travel destination
Believe it or not, Little Buckeye is bringing in families from Cleveland and Columbus! “We’re seeing 18,000 visitors coming from 1.5 hours away and our attendance is up 40% per month,” stated Boll. “According to the CVB (Convention & Visitor Bureaus), we’re worth about $2.4 million to the local economy.” Day trips for those coming out of town and even those who are local can spend more time in the area and take in all that Mansfield and the surrounding area has to offer.
The Future of Little Buckeye
With attendance on the rise, it’s possible that the museum would need more space. How great would it be to triple the size or more?! More exhibits = more fun for families and would create even more impact on the local economy. Boll commented, “If we were to find a larger location, our board would be sure that we would stay in downtown Mansfield to support the local community, and that we would improve our parking.” More space would also mean that Little Buckeye would become an overnight destination for out of town folks. “If we would change to a 30,000-40,000 square foot museum, people wouldn’t just come for the day, they’d stay the night and come for two days. It would take a few days to get through it.” The economic impact of an overnight destination could be $15-20 million for the area.
Giving Back to the Community
Even though Little Buckeye Museum is a charity itself, it still gives back to the community by giving away memberships to local charities. Memberships for families are $100 and grandparents $75 for one year.
With the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s nice to be able to have a place to visit and slow down for a change. It’s wonderful that we have Little Buckeye here in Mansfield, Ohio and that it provides children and parents with the opportunity to engage with each other, play, pretend, bond and learn. When asked what’s most rewarding about the museum, Fred stated, “I go to work someplace where people smile every day.”
Learn more about Little Buckeye Children’s Museum on their website: littlebuckeye.org
$8/person 2 & up