Skip to main content



Our History

A 25 year long story... so far!

In 1993, the dream of creating a space for unstructured, creative play for the children of the Northwoods took shape when the Northwoods Children’s Museum (NCM) was incorporated. Then the real work of bringing the dream of a museum to reality began. For the next five years, the founding board worked tirelessly to promote their vision, gain the support of our small, rural communities, and raise funds for the venture.  In 1998, the Museum opened its doors in Eagle River, Wisconsin. At that time, our building was also home to the Vilas County News Review, which occupied the north end of the building until 2007.  Joy Long was the visionary behind the Museum and was instrumental in bringing her dream to fruition. Joy and her husband, Mike, served as co-administrators until 2008. Their hard work, sacrifices, and dedication helped build a vital community resource that serves families throughout rural, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and hosts over 26,000 visitors every year.  

NCM started with 13 hands-on exhibits designed to stir curiosity and encourage further exploration. The original exhibits included a Medical Center, Grocery Store, Music Area, Computers, Imagination Station, Grandma's Attic Dress-Up Area, Ice Castle, Construction Junction, Shadow Room, Bubble Station, Pioneer Cabin, Fire Tower/Ranger Station, and Fishing Pond & River. We have made continuous improvements to our original exhibits to keep the museum fresh and exciting for our guests. Since 1998, the Museum has grown to include 26 interactive exhibits, the Discovery Toy Store, a Celebration Room for families to enjoy year-round, and an outdoor garden. We offer free memberships to income-qualified families. We partner with other local organizations to facilitate a variety of outreach programs. We host workshops, school field trips, special events, and participate in community-wide celebrations to provide kids’ activities and promote the Museum.

NCM is organized as a non-profit 503(c)(3) corporation governed by a board of directors. We earn revenue through admissions, field trips, birthday parties, membership sales, facilitated workshops, meeting room rentals, gift certificate sales, merchandise sales, grants, and donations - our life blood.

The Northwoods Children’s Museum has been an Eagle River institution for over 25 years.  We are proud to be one of the smallest towns in the US to have a vibrant children’s museum. We remain passionate about our mission to enrich lives, support families, and encourage a love of learning through interactive play.  We look forward to adding more exciting exhibits and are considering a possible museum expansion as we continue to evolve and grow.

Our Impact This Year

  • Visitors Served


  • Volunteer Hours


  • Dollars Raised


  • New Member Families


  • Museums For All
    Museums For All
© 2024 Northwoods Children's Museum

Powered by Firespring