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Children’s Museum of Napa Valley


A little over two years ago, two moms of children in Napa Valley sat down together after months and months of talking about the lack of family programming available to area families. They were not the only ones having this exact conversation – many other parents, caregivers and visitors have been having this same dialogue for years – but Alicia Garcia and Etta Williams decided to take a leap and began planning for the future Children’s Museum of Napa Valley.


If you’ve been to a children’s, family or discovery museum, such as Children’s Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa, Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito or MOXI in Santa Barbara, then you may have an understanding of the mission of the Children’s Museum of Napa Valley (SMONV). CMONV will bring a safe learning environment full of adventure to spark curiosity through play, while promoting a love of learning. It will be rich in hands on, interactive exhibits and thematic programs tailored to the diverse skills and interests of life-long learners, with a focus on children birth to 12. The museum will utilize an interactive, bilingual and multi-sensory approach, while celebrating the beauty and history of Napa Valley. The bottom line – this will be an inclusive place to have fun, unplug, build, tinker, test theories, imagine, create, collaborate, teach, and learn about what makes Napa Valley unique, welcoming the young and the young-at-heart.


As parents wanting more for our children and being tired and frustrated at countless hours driving in the car to other family-friendly locations, CMONV was born. “Napa Valley is stunning and has so many valuable assets, bountiful in outdoor adventure and agriculture, and family offerings have certainly improved; however, we simply need more for families and we want to do something that the community can be proud of and make a positive impact for future generations,” said Etta Williams, CMONV Board Co-President. “So, we started researching, planning and speaking with other successful museums around the country and with fellow parents and community leaders, and our idea flourished.”


A 15,000-20,000 square-foot indoor and outdoor space is planned, rich in hands-on exhibits to appeal to all ages with a primary focus on 0-12, allowing for opportunities to unplug and simply enjoy the surrounding environment. It will pay tribute to the land, agriculture, viticulture, Napa Valley culture and will support STEAM initiatives. Interactive exhibits are being developed with renowned museum exhibit designer, Daniel Wodarcyk of S2 Associates, and will feature a intentionally-designed learning environment created to promote the development of essential foundational skills all while paying tribute to the unique land and agriculture of Napa Valley.


As an emerging non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, fundraising is a critical component to continuing along the path to success and opening a physical space for our community to enjoy. Initial fundraising was secured in April of 2019 that allowed for a feasibility study. As part of the research done by ConsultEcon, Inc., forums were hosted with a diverse cross section of community leaders and members to gain insight on the prospective success of the museum. The study, which benchmarks more than a dozen comparable museums, favorably details the market and economic feasibility of proceeding with plans for the museum. The study presents for strong local and visitor attendance, with locals in need of this community resource and visitors increasingly traveling with their children to Napa Valley.


To date, the support of the community has been inspiring. CMONV has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of several events hosted by the Napa Valley Wine Train and Charlie Palmer’s American Fare, both organizations acknowledging the value in the addition of CMONV in Napa Valley.


A capital campaign is being launched in the spring to achieve fundraising for the building of the museum. The timeline of this funding need is reliant on how quickly the museum acquires a location, as the funding need will be determined by the economics of the location and if a physical building needs to be constructed.


CMONV would like the community to know two ways they can make a big impact: 1. If you plan to make a donation, before you do, check to see if your employer makes matching donation – many do! 2. Buy your online Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile. When you make your Amazon purchases through smile.amazon.com and you select Children’s Museum of Napa Valley as the beneficiary, .5% of all eligible purchases will be donated to CMONV. A little at a time adds up and will bring CMONV one step closer to becoming a reality.


In addition to fundraising, CMONV is actively working with City and County officials, individual real estate owners and developers seeking donated real estate in the form of land or a building to house the museum. As a non-profit organization, this is critical to the success and timeliness of the museum plans.


CMONV Board of Directors includes a diverse group who are passionate about the mission and bringing the museum to life for our community. The Board includes Co-Presidents Alicia Garcia and Etta Williams, Erica Aronson, Janette Brooks, Betsy Busch, Kate Daw, Julia Fox, Mary Luros, Nicole Mori, Cleo Pahlmeyer, Brenda Pedroza, Jessica Rippey, Shilah Salmon, and Thwani Satten. Collectively the group has 37 children and counting, thus a strong commitment to improving opportunities for our youth in Napa Valley.


Alicia Garcia, CMONV Board Co-President said, “We have been working on this for 2 years and have set the groundwork in motion, but we have a long way to go. Fundraising and finding the right location are of utmost importance right now. These things take time, but with the resources and generous businesses and individuals in the Valley who are philanthropic at heart, we plan to move this forward so that our children can enjoy the museum vision we have been working so hard for. It would be incredible for all those involved to be able to share this realized dream with our children.”


To meet some of the Board members and find out what CMONV is about, come visit them at Napa’s Community Earth Day Celebration on April 26.


For more information on giving, the CMONV mission and for a complete list of financial supporters, visit cmonv.org. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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