Mission & History

To inspire curiosity and creativity through joyful, transformative experiences.  

Born out of research, creativity, heart and tenacity, the Children’s Museum has grown into what it is today, thanks to the vision of a dedicated group of mothers who wanted more for the children of Sonoma County. Here’s our story:

  • Early 2005 – A group of Sonoma County mothers inaugurated plans for a children’s museum, addressing the need for a local place for parents, grandparents, and teachers to provide children enriched, learning experiences.

  • Late 2005 - Faced with increasing budget cuts to science and art programs within schools, this educated team established Children’s Museum of Sonoma County (CMOSC) as a federal 501(c)(3) corp.

  • Without funding from outside groups or donors, they launched the Museum-on-the-Go (MOG) mobile science and art outreach program.

  • 2008 - The Junior League of Napa-Sonoma provided the first seed funding to officially sponsor MOG, expanding outreach across the county

  • 2008 - CMOSC launched the Founding Family program - more than 100 families committed to the vision over the next three years.

  • 2011- CMOSC secured a physical site on 4.2 acres and was awarded a $1.8M CA state grant to build an outdoor nature education area (Mary’s Garden).

  • 2012 - CMOSC launched an $8.3M capital campaign to build the permanent museum. The Ella Bisbee Foundation was the first major seed funder with the legacy gift of an art room (Ella’s Art Studio).

  • 2014 - CMOSC opened the first phase, Mary's Garden, to the public.

  • 2015 – CMOSC opened the Science and Imagination Gallery (SIG) and TOTopia interior galleries with a generous $1M stakeholder gift from the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation.

  • The CMOSC campus includes over 7,000sq ft of existing interior space, coupled with 36,000sq ft of outdoor exhibits. All exhibits are devoted to science, art or nature, with a specific emphasis in Mary’s Garden on environmental sustainability, water conservation and renewable energies.

Rooted in current early childhood research, CMOSC has become a destination and valuable family resource for Sonoma County and across the region, welcoming 150,000 visitors each year. CMOSC inspires children’s creativity and stimulates their development by encouraging exploration in an open and accessible interactive museum.

The Children's Museum of Sonoma County exists today because of the incredible generosity and vision of so many in our community. We are deeply grateful.