Building the New Hands On Children’s Museum

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on October 29, 2012

We are proud to support many charitable endeavors in our community.  The non-profits that work so tirelessly are a big part of the soul of this community.  One of those is the Hands On Children’s Museum.  Regular followers of our site know that we have been helping raise funds to build the new facility here in Olympia.  The following is a wonderful announcement from the Museum on another great donor who has chosen to invest in this wonderful community treasure.


OLYMPIA, WA — The Outdoor Discovery Center at the New Hands On Children’s Museum on East Bay, has just been selected by the Association of Children’s Museums as a national pilot site for its Good to Grow! Going Wild project. Hands On was selected as one of three sites nationwide out of a pool of 28 U.S. grant applicants.

The purpose of the Good to Grow! Going Wild project is to create sustainable natural spaces that promote play and learning and can serve as a model for the Children’s Museum field. A hallmark of these projects is that they must use materials found in nature and be tied to the local environment. Hands On will use the $65K grant award to complete the Driftwood Fort Construction Exhibit in the Museum’s new Outdoor Discovery Center on East Bay. Lead funding for the exhibit was provided by Ken and Nancy Anderson, of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty. The exhibit is designed to create seamless indoor-outdoor play. Just inside the museum’s roll-up doors children will experience the Puget Sound Gallery where they can crawl under a large cargo ship to experience the sea life in Puget Sound. Just outside the doors the “Driftwood Fort” exhibit, set on the shores of Puget Sound. The exhibit will feature loose pieces and fixed pieces of driftwood that families can use to build their own special hiding places.

The Driftwood Fort is a centerpiece of the Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center, a unique half acre of outdoor exhibits, the largest of its kind for Washington State, which will also include a hike and trike loop, storytelling fire ring, lighthouse look-out, a sand dig, a demonstration garden, and a naturalist cabin. The Outdoor Discovery Center is returning what was once a former brownfield into a clean, natural place for public use. The Museum’s partners for this project include Puget Sound Partnership, the Squaxin Tribe, and Port Blakely Tree Farms forestry educators.

Fort building, like many outdoor play experiences, builds important skills including planning, problem solving and teamwork. Most importantly fort building gives a child a deep sense of accomplishment and the end result is a small space that can calm the soul and promote activities like storytelling or reading. “We asked adults what their most vivid childhood memories were,” recalled Museum Executive Director Patty Belmonte. “In every meeting, the answers started with a sharing of outdoor experiences—on the beaches of Puget Sound, in the treetops of nearby forests, in backyards. It was clear that fort building was a universally shared experience by older adults and one that lingered as highlight of childhood.”

While the Outdoor Discovery Center and the Driftwood Fort are set to open Spring 2013, the Hands On Children’s Museum will hold the Grand Opening for its new building and indoor exhibits at 414 Jefferson Street NE in Olympia’s East Bay over Veterans’ Day Weekend. The Members Only Grand Opening will be Saturday, Nov. 10 from 10am-9pm and the Public Grand Opening will be Sunday, Nov. 11 from 10am-9pm and Monday, Nov. 12 from 10am-5pm. Advance registration for entry times is strongly recommended for all three days. Tickets for specific entry times are now available at

The Good to Grow! Going Wild grant applications were reviewed by an Advisory Committee comprised of experts from botanical gardens, landscape architecture and urban design firms, environmental education and children’s health organizations and informal learning institutions and supported by The Trustees’ Philanthropy Fund of Fidelity Charitable. For more information about the Good to Grow! Going Wild grant, visit

For more information about the Hands On Children’s Museum, including its upcoming Grand Opening events and the Outdoor Discovery Center, visit

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