In 1990, the Junior League of Evansville formed Hands On Discovery. For over fourteen years, Hands On Discovery provided a learning laboratory for children from throughout Evansville and the tri-state region. With decreasing resources for both in school and field trip activities, teachers from dozens of school districts came to rely on this facility as an important extension of the classroom.
During the final three years in operation, the need for a larger and professionally developed children’s museum became overwhelmingly clear. Operating in a small, donated storefront at Washington Square Mall, the first Hands On Discovery Children’s Museum served over 200,000 children, one class at a time. The Children’s Museum became such an important community resource that in 2004 alone over 150 school groups, representing 3,000 students, had to be turned away due to the lack of space.
Following extensive community input and a fund development feasibility study, and in an extraordinary act of city, business and community partnership, the City of Evansville’s Redevelopment Commission gifted the Children’s Museum with a historic downtown building - the former Central Library - and a corporate challenge grant to launch its fundraising campaign to relocate and expand the Children’s Museum.
The museum closed for almost two years in order to focus attention on a capital campaign, new exhibit design and major renovations. During this time, community forums were held to discuss and dream about exhibits for the new space. These forums led to final exhibit concepts and construction began in the new Downtown Evansville location. The organization was renamed the Louis J. Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville (cMoe) in July 2006 and opened in its doors on September 29, 2006.
Today, the Children’s Museum of Evansville engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. We encourage imagination, curiosity, questioning, and realism.