By September 5, 2022 0 Comments Read More →

InterView – Katie Barber – Modesto Children’s Museum

Intro by Chris Murphy & Abigail Power

Modesto is the envy of many communities for our volunteer sprit. This is truly why so many of the special things happen in our community. MoBand? Volunteers. Gallo Center? Volunteers. Prospect Theatre? Volunteers. Graffiti USA Museum? Volunteers. Salvation Army? Volunteers. From our non-profits to our cultural experiences volunteers are the key to inspiration and are the genesis of things that can change the community. People have an experience, or see a need and this idea can turn into something magic, just like the new Modesto Children’s Museum. Katie and Jake Barber took a tragic experience in their life and turned their grief into a magical experience for other kids in Graceada Park. Now Katie and Jake are taking the imagination of kids to a new level with the Modesto Children’s Museum. Let’s get to know Katie and see how we can bring this to life.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Katie has called Modesto home since 2014. She earned a degree in Biology from The Pennsylvania State University and worked as a Clinical Coordinator with the Transplant Programs at Stanford Hospital. She currently devotes her time to her children, Brooke, Matthew, and Lily, and to projects that serve the local community – particularly those that aim to improve the lives of children. In 2017, Katie and her husband Jake spearheaded a project to restore the pool and splash pad in Graceada Park as a memorial to their son Ryan. She is committed to community-driven projects that promote programs and resources for families and children.

ModestoView: How was the idea to create a Modesto Children’s Museum started?
Katie Barber: MoChiMu was established in 2019, and has grown to what it is today because of dedicated community members giving their passion to the project! The non-profit was originally formed with 6 founding members, and has grown to an active working board of 13. The idea to create a children’s museum came from the desire to create a safe, vibrant place to bring families and children together, right here in their own backyard.

MV: How does your team believe a children’s museum will be beneficial for the community?
KB: We believe that making a connection in early childhood is the best way to ignite a love of learning. When we take care and invest in our children, the whole community benefits! Children’s museums are very special places; they offer informal learning opportunities that many kids may not have access to otherwise. Activities at the museum will create excitement about learning, help children to make new discoveries, and let them use their imagination to go on their own adventures. The museum will be a resource for our local schools and teachers, while it invites the whole family to be a part of their child’s education.

MV: What exhibits or activities are inside the museum? What will it look like?
KB: The Modesto Children’s Museum will have 10 incredible, never-before-seen exhibits that provide children a huge array of adventures. Our exhibits include a massive 25-foot climbing structure, a baby and toddler area, the beloved grocery store and café, and three different lab spaces that explore water, air, and light. The art room will be a place for messy play, art exploration, and hands-on making. This room will also be a home base for school field trips and birthday celebrations. Our exhibits were designed to put children in charge of their own learning adventure, through creative play!

In addition to the exhibits, the museum will offer an amazing variety of programming, designed to work together with the exhibits. The water exhibit can be used to teach about irrigation and agriculture. The air lab can be activated with programming about alternative energy sources. The toddler area will feature programming for early childhood development, or even “Baby + Me” classes, to provide support for new parents. These types of programs will be ever-changing, giving the museum endless possibilities!
MV: What have you accomplished so far with respect to fundraising? What is your initial goal to get the museum ready for visitors
KB: Our capital campaign began in January 2021, and as of today our team has raised over $7.5 million. We are so thankful for the community response and generosity! The start of our public campaign “Launch the Adventure!” happened last month. It was an electric day, where we finally got to share all that we have been working on behind the scenes. The kickoff of our public campaign is the invitation to the community to help us raise the final $1.5 million to get the doors open. We can’t do it without our generous supporters!
MV: What is the timeline for the public? When do you hope to be open?
KB: We recently completed the final design of the exhibits, and are currently preparing to start fabrication. Building construction will begin this Fall, with the installation of the exhibits scheduled for early 2023. So keep an eye out on 11th street for how the building will be changing before your eyes! We hope to be open in Summer/Fall 2023.
MV: How does this project promote inclusivity, diversity, and positivity in the new immersive space?
KB: The Modesto Children’s Museum is a place for all children! The Board has a strong commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, and we’re being led by an incredible IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility) committee. The exhibits and programming have been designed to accommodate both English and Spanish speakers, with plans to create programs specifically made for first-generation families.
There will be dedicated low sensory hours so that children with varying sensory needs feel welcome, and our climbing structure was thoughtfully designed to have a transfer platform on the second story entrance so that all children can experience climbing to the top!
MV: How are you working with schools and other community organizations to promote engagement in the museum?
KB: We are starting to connect with school districts throughout Stanislaus County to create plans for field trip programs and other opportunities! We can’t wait to see buses bringing groups of students through our doors. School field trips will be an exciting way for the museum to complement the classroom curriculum. Students and teachers can take what they learn back to the classroom and expand on their adventures!

MV: How can the community get involved and help?
KB: There are multiple ways the community can get involved to help! We would love for those who can contribute to the campaign to help us reach our fundraising goal by the end of this year. The Olson Family Foundation has generously given us a matching grant, where they will match all donations dollar for dollar up to $125,000 through the end of September. For those who are able to give their time, we also welcome community members to join our team of volunteers. The Modesto Children’s Museum team is a group of passionate volunteers, and we are always looking for those with interest, time, and talent.
MV: What are the benefits of being a donor of the Modesto Children’s Museum?
KB: Being a donor is a much-needed way to support the museum! Donors from $250 and above will be recognized on our website, and those who donate $1000 and above will have permanent name recognition in the museum. Major Founding donor levels of $25,000 and above will receive a variety of special benefits and recognition. We even have some naming opportunities still available for exhibits throughout the museum. How cool would it be to have your name next to an exhibit?! Feel free to email me at<> for more information.
MV: We would love to follow the progress and stay tuned in real time! Can you share your social handles and website information for our readers?
KB: We love connecting with the community, and our social media platforms are so fun to follow! You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @modestochildrensmuseum for real-time updates on news and events. Another important way to follow the museum’s progress is to visit our website at and sign up for our newsletter!
MV: Lastly, Beatles or Stones?
KB: Beatles!

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.