History

The most important thing in our entire museum and its programs is the imagination of your child. 

Every exhibit and program is developed to engage the child (and the young-at-heart) in an interactive, free-play, imagination-centered way.  We invite you to visit our Museum. Bring your children and grandchildren and spend an hour or two just bonding and engaging in play that facilitates social, emotional and cognitive growth.

The Children's Museum is a campus made up of several historic buildings. Part of our mission is to preserve these buildings -- some of the oldest in Boca Raton -- for posterity, while making them useful and educational for children.

The Boca Raton Children’s Museum is an interactive educational organization first housed in “Singing Pines,” one of the oldest unaltered wooden structures in the city of Boca Raton built by the Myrick Family (circa 1913).  It was put into service in 1979, by the Junior League as the Singing Pines Museum and was established soon after as the private non-profit; today the first and oldest children’s museum in Florida. Over the years, the Museum has expanded structurally and its programs, events, and exhibitions reach out to over 60,000 individuals each year. The Mission of the Children’s Museum states a commitment to the development of creative thinking skills of children through programs and exhibits in history, sciences, and humanities that complement and supplement school curricula. 

Next door to Singing Pines is a 1935 Cottage originally built as a private home by the grandchild of the Ricketts pioneer family.  Formerly, this building was used by the Arvida Corporation as its first local construction and sales office beginning in the 1960’s and then moved to the Museum grounds in the 1980’s. It currently provides space for administration and program development with resources and collections available to teachers, artists and other organizations.

Programs at the Children’s Museum include The Traveling Museum; FACES, Multicultural Reading Program and Archaeo Project. Thirteen of the educational programs are aligned with Florida Sunshine State Standards and have been approved by Palm Beach County Schools for delivery in the classroom or as a field trip supplement.

The Traveling Museum outreach programs include 25 educational programs that are presented in the Museum or offsite in schools or community centers.  First offered in 1987, The Traveling Museum continues to enrich and promote integrated arts curricula with history, humanities, and sciences to children from pre-school through the fifth grade.  As testament to its teachers and subject matter, schools leading in F-Cat scoring have consistently used these programs year after year.  Target groups from Boca Raton are part of the on-going studies which assist the Museum with evaluation of its work and provides an additional opportunity for the Museum to serve the community.

As a special note, all Museum offerings are provided free to special needs groups when a fee is applicable.

In June, 2011, the Children’s Museum opened the Rickards House, inspired by one of the first homes built in Boca Raton by Captain T. M. Rickards in 1897.

This building will introduce a part of Boca Raton’s history, the late 19th century, immediately preceding and instrumental to the Myrick’s Singing Pines built in Boca Raton in the early 20th century. With the Rickards House, the Museum will feature a grouping of residential architecture that spanned periods of significant growth and change in the City.  The front porches and entrances of these buildings face a community commons area.  Natural habitats and native landscaping will continue to define Boca’s wilderness heritage.

As a Museum, the two-story building contains the unique Jason’s Music Hall on the ground floor and administration with community resources upstairs. Presently the Children’s Museum has specific afternoon hours of public entrance, reserving morning hours for school & community groups to participate in structured programs.  As school groups are often larger than the Singing Pines indoor limitation of 35 students, the addition of the new building will assist in extending public hours and serving these groups.

Jason’s Music Hall will provide accessibility to music and musical programs for children from infancy through adolescence and add this important dimension to Museum offerings. It will be a state-of-the-art music emporium with changeable staging to accommodate a variety of audience seating arrangements; provisions can be made for home-school, arts after-school, and special study groups.  The “Garage Band Studio” is equipped to record audio/visual productions for students’ creations, professional performances, and recitals.

The Rickards Family was prominent in establishing Boca Raton as a community.  In 1884 Tom M. Rickards, naturalist, writer, farmer, surveyor, and civil engineer, bought fifty acres of land south of Palmetto Park Road and east along the Intracoastal, in what is now known as the Por la Mar subdivision.  Later, his efforts in promoting settlement and citrus tree and pineapple farming in the region were so successful that he built a two-story, nine room frame house for his family.  The West Indian style house was the most imposing residence in the settlement.  After a hurricane in 1903 Rickards left Florida for North Carolina, but his influence remained and the community continued to grow.

Events at the Boca Raton Children’s Museum are local traditions.  Businesses and organizations are invited to participate with sponsorships, booths, or performance venues.  Annually, Breakfast with Santa, the Menorah Lighting Ceremony, Spring Fling, and Halloween Happenings bring thousands to downtown and a series of one-week “Adventures in the Arts” Summer Camps offer unique and reasonably-priced programs to youngsters in a charming old-time town square atmosphere.

Historic houses generate an intrinsic sense of community spirit and the Children’s Museum encourages residents to participate in its mission. Volunteers include people from the visual and performing arts, technology industry, business and science community, service organizations and education specialists.  For example, FACES Multicultural program has over 40 creative individuals sharing their talents in an environment that promotes self-expression, community awareness, and self-esteem.    The “oldest” volunteer is a 96 years young pioneer child and has given the Museum the right of publication of her childhood memories.

Economic development in Boca Raton brings many businesses to the area looking for cultural amenities that will enhance the family values and lifestyle of their employees. The Children’s Museum often becomes a meeting place for these newcomers as a local, easily accessible alternate setting for educational and artistic expressions. Glimpses into local history and a thirty year relationship with residents offer introductions into the common threads of community. 

Financial Support of the private, non-profit Children’s Museum is varied.  Corporate sponsors are involved at different levels through special events and traveling exhibitions. Private individual, government, and foundation funding provide general operating support as well. The Children’s Museum generates modest earned income through admission fees, workshops, gift shop sales, and program services.  The Children’s Museum applies for funding at national, state, and local levels.  Sponsoring a family museum with three decades of experience and sustaining relationships, continues a legacy where the community and its visitors will always be the beneficiaries.

 

Morning" by Lillian Race Williams, July 3, 1947

I've named it "Singing Pines", when they're musical
They sing to me tunefully -
Radio playing cheerfully,
Diesel engine mooing carefully,
Poor old Huhson waiting faitfully,
All these things bringing Joy to me,
In the morning-Here beside the sea.

Lillian Race Williams was the second and last owner of the house that eventually became the Children's Museum.