Children’s museum in Carson City has a lot going on

Jacquline Clay, executive director, Children's Museum of Northern Nevada, stands in the museum room reserved for birthday parties.

Jacquline Clay, executive director, Children's Museum of Northern Nevada, stands in the museum room reserved for birthday parties.

There’s a lot going on at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, both in front of and behind the scenes.

The 30-year-old museum has a few spots left in its upcoming science camp, Aug. 13-17, for children in kindergarten through second grade in the morning and kids from third through sixth grades in the afternoon. The camp is sponsored by Southwest Gas and costs $65.

In September, corporate sponsor of the month U.S. Bank is hosting a karaoke dance party for the public and a free admission day.

The museum has expanded its popular story time, run by Beverly Vugteveen, to two mornings a week, at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The retail store is being redone, and the museum is in the midst of a longterm project to add a natural playground area outside in front of the building.

“We’re starting to beef up the store. There is no toy store in Carson City so we want to focus on good quality games and toys and fabulous books,” said Jacquline Clay, executive director.

Clay joined the museum in May after nine years at the Nevada Museum of Art, where she ran the Reno museum’s shop and front desk. Prior to that, she was the history curator for the Nevada Historical Society, and ran the Sutter County Community Memorial Museum in Yuba City, California, before moving to Nevada in 2000.

Besides using her retail experience, Clay said she’s working to formalize what goes on behind the scenes.

“I’m hoping to give the museum a little more internal structure,” said Clay.

That includes shoring up its membership program, which is $70 annually for families or $40 for half a year, as well as a daycare membership for $100. General admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids aged 2 to 15, free for children under 2, and $5 for seniors and members of the military.

Clay is also trying to formalize the museum’s collection of volunteers into a list everyone can rely on.

“Those kind of basic things are important to keep a museum afloat,” she said.

Money also buoys a museum so Clay is looking for new grants, both public and private. The museum recently was awarded a grant from the John and Grace Nauman Foundation in Carson City to refresh the lobby.

The museum building, built in the 1930s and once the civic auditorium, is owned by Carson City. The museum gets a break on rent, but otherwise gets no ongoing funding from local or state government.

The museum did recently receive $50,000 in redevelopment funds from the city to get a start on its project to add a playground in front of the building.

A higher, gated fence will be installed to keep kids off Carson Street, and a playground likely equipped with a slide, tree house, musical garden, and chalk boards built to give children some outdoor space to explore. Carson City architect John Copoulos is working on the design.

That project will take awhile, and in the meantime, Clay is busy learning the ropes of running a museum for children.

“It’s very different for me, in large part because there isn’t a permanent collection. I’m not used to people touching my collection,” said Clay, whose office is in the museum’s basement. “Or having a herd of buffalo overhead.”


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