In 1999, Mary Cone Kasprzyk experienced the loss of both her father and father-in-law, as well as the birth of her third child, within months of one another. She funneled those emotions, along with a passion for education and childhood equity, into making a positive change in the community.
The idea for a hands-on, educational children’s museum in Southwest Michigan was born. After in-depth research and planning, the early stages of the 501(C) (3) non-profit organization, then known as the Allegan County Children’s Museum, began to take shape.
Fueled by the support of the community, Mary brought the museum in traveling form to schools throughout the county over the next two years. During that time, however, it was decided that a permanent home would be ideal.
Putting Down Roots
In 2006, local philanthropist Robert Hutchinson offered to renovate an old building in downtown Fennville, which still serves as the museum's home. Many of the hands-on exhibits have been built by community members or purchased through generous donations and grants. The museum also offers a vibrant selection of programs and special events throughout the year.
Forever Curious has received numerous grants, awards and accolades, including the PBS/WGVU “Making a Difference” finalist in 2015. It was named the “Favorite Find of the Entire Summer” by Travel Editor Julie Henning Road Trips for Families in 2016.
Mary retired in December 2016, but her dedication to the museum shows no signs of waning. The present executive director, Wendi Onuki, has been working hard to further her vision and bring fresh exhibits, programs and ideas to the museum.
A New Chapter
In April 2022, The Mitten opened its doors in downtown South Haven. The Mitten features Michigan-themed spaces such as the Great Lakes room, Farmers' Market, Motown & Me, MakerSpace, I Heart South Haven room and more. The hands-on activities are designed to promote learning through play among young children and their families.
While the original plan was to have two locations operating in harmony, it became quickly clear that it was in the best interests of the nonprofit to consolidate offerings in one large space in South Haven. Forever Curious closed its doors in December, and the museum board and staff are currently seeking a new permanent building that would house the best of both museums under one roof. Stay tuned for updates!
Meet the Board
2023 BOARD MEETINGS
All meetings begin at 5 pm at The Mitten Children's Museum, unless otherwise noted, and are open to the public.