In 1990, Krista Yurchik placed an ad in the Lakeland Ledger inviting people to meet at the Library who were interested in starting a children’s museum. About 20 families showed up and by 1991 they had incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit and opened their first storefront on Kentucky Ave in downtown Lakeland. In 1998 the SWANSATION campaign that brought the dozens of beautiful swan statues to the City raised the funds necessary to purchase the Historic Kress building from the City of Lakeland and begin renovations for a new facility. A capital campaign ensued and the new Museum debuted in 2000. The Museum partners with schools, colleges, arts & cultural organizations, foundations, government, civic groups, individuals and corporations like Disney, Publix, United Way, Born Learning, Success by 6 and many others to provide engaging programs.
Museum admissions average more than 40,000 annually, with nearly 20,000 education program attendees and 40,000 outreach attendees for an average total impact of 100,000.
Explorations V Children’s Museum Awards & Accolades
- 2010 Golden Swan Award! Downtown Lakeland Partnership
- 2010 Blue Star Museum, National Endowment for the Arts
- 2009 Disney Shine On Award; “Helping Kids Shine” & “Ears to You” Awards in previous years
- 2009 “Mega Mike” featured “green” exhibit in Exhibitionist Journal published by National Assn for Museum Exhibition
- 2008-2010 Nickelodeon’s Parent’s Picks Award Nominee
- 2008 “Wacky Wednesday”, weekly cup cooking programs featured in Association of Children’s Museum’s (ACM) Good to Grow “Healthy Museums, Healthy Kids” book
- 2006 Lakeland “Year of the Museum” Proclamation
- 2003 Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) Met Life Promising Practice Award Honorable Mention
- 2002 United Arts of Central Florida Arts+ Award for Children’s Programs
- 2000 Library of Congress Local Legacy, Rep. Charles T. Canady (12th District)
Individual Awards – Employees/Volunteers
- 2014 FL Assn of Museums’ Outstanding Mid-Career Professional Winner – Sue Schluender
- 2010 Polk Arts Alliance Community Arts Recognition Program Winner – Polly Kasprzak
- 2009 FL Assn of Museums’ Outstanding New Professional Winner – Eddie Kleissler
- 2008 ACM Diversity in Action Scholarship Winner – Angela Watson
- 2008 Church Women United Human Rights Award – Georgann Carlton
- 2008 Polk Arts Alliance Community Arts Recognition Program Winner – Dr. Donna Henricks
- 2006 National Association of Women Business Owners Woman of Distinction Nominee – Georgann Carlton
- 1996 FL Assn of Museum’s Outstanding New Professional Winner – Brenda Paul
- 1995 FL Assn of Museum’s Outstanding New Professional Winner – Terisa Glover
The country’s first Children’s Museum was the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, founded in 1899!
The current Museum, housed in the historic Kress Building, is 6 times the size of the former Museum.
Explorations V Children’s Museum is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Programs sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.