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Children’s Museum breaks ground

Skating rink to become play annex

Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Children and Youth Programs has partnered with the Children's Museum of Tacoma to turn the old skating rink at 2275 Liggett Ave. into a Children's Museum annex.

The Children's Museum of Tacoma was established in 1985 by parents, teachers and community leaders to create unique resources for area families. Located at 1501 Pacific Ave., downtown, the museum has earned a reputation for the excellence of its educational offerings, programming, and hands-on exhibits.

With the groundbreaking ceremony last Wednesday afternoon, the new annex will serve the children of military families with an emphasis on early learners and those with special needs.

With an approximate cost of $5 million, construction will begin in December and be completed in April 2020.  

"This is all about connection," said Tanya Durand, executive director, Children's Museum of Tacoma. "We are very excited to come along side our long-time partners and make this museum a joyful, playful place for families living on Joint Base Lewis-McChord," continued Durand.

She explained that children need to feel an attachment to their parents and that a disruption to that can have negative impacts on children.

"When one parent is deployed, the other parent will feel stress, and babies sense that stress," continued Durand. "Play reduces stress and this place will not only help to do that, but it will also help families reconnect and readjust after a deployment."

The event that led to the groundbreaking began years ago when a former soldier made a comment to retired Maj. Gen. James Collins.

"Scott Marshall and I served together at Weyerhaeuser," explained Collins to the crowd of local and museum officials who had turned out for the ceremony. "That conversation led to conversations with the museum's board of directors and how they could support the military community, and the Army is all in."

JBLM is home to approximately 1,500 families with children under the age of 6.

"This is a momentous occasion for the servicemembers and families here at JBLM, began Col. Nicole Lucas, garrison commander. "We have thousands of kids stationed at JBLM, and I can't think of a better place to create the first on-base children's museum than Joint Base Lewis-McChord."

Once completed, the annex will take on the feel of a community center. There will be an outer area for individuals to check in, congregate and visit. Further inside, the former skating rink will have been transformed into various playscapes that will allow children and their parents to grow and play.

"We are always getting new families here at JBLM," concluded Lucas. "I will be glad to see this building overflowing with kids and play and laughter."

For more information about the Children's Museum of Tacoma, visit

PHOTO: Brian Marlow, board president, Children’s Museum of Tacoma; Col. Bill Percival, 627th Air Base Group Commander; Col. Nicole Lucas, JBLM Garrison Commander; Tanya Durand, executive director, Children’s Museum of Tacoma; and I Corps’ Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Tagalicudo shovel Legos to signify the groundbreaking for the future home of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma at JBLM.

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