Thirty years ago, the Junior League of St. Petersburg set out to create a local children’s museum to serve the children and families in the Tampa Bay area. As a result, Great Explorations Children’s Museum was founded through partnership of the Junior League of St. Petersburg and Hands On!, Inc., a local exhibit design firm. In 1987, the museum opened its doors to an enthusiastic public.
In 2003, we relocated from the St. Petersburg Pier to an historic building on 4th Street N. outside downtown St. Petersburg adjacent to Sunken Gardens. In 2007, Jeanne and Bill Heller founded Early Explorations Preschool, a year-round, members-only preschool serving children ages 2-5.
In 2014, we became the first mid-sized children’s museum in the United States and the only children’s museum in the Tampa Bay area to receive accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest honor for a museum.
Our mission is to stimulate learning through creativity, play, and exploration. We fulfill our mission by offering interactive exhibits and educational programming within a learning environment that is informal, creative and fun! Each exhibit is designed to enhance the skill sets that our children are working on at such a young age: fine and gross motor skills, social/emotional development, critical thinking/creative problem solving, community awareness, safety, science, math, and literacy.
Great Explorations is very appreciative of all that the St. Petersburg community has done to help us build a nationally accredited museum and award-winning preschool that positively impacts the lives of children and families in St. Petersburg. We help develop and nurture a strong educational foundation through fun, creative exhibits and programs that engage children ages 0 – 10.
As a nonprofit organization, we strive to be as self-sustaining as possible and we consistently apply for grants to supplement the work we are doing in the community. We are truly grateful for the funds we receive through these grants; however, they are not guaranteed. Therefore, donations by local museum supporters remain a substantial source of funding support. Regardless, Great Explorations continues to serve thousands of children and families through in-kind services and programs each year.
We continue to strengthen financially and build our attendance and membership base. As daily museum attendance and participation in our educational programs continues to grow each year, we are faced with the need for additional space. We are poised now to build upon this success by expanding and renovating the museum to include a second floor mezzanine with a 1,920 sq. ft. multipurpose room, preschool expansion, and new interactive and educational exhibits for children to play in and explore for many years to come.
Great Explorations is dedicated to a culture of inclusion that inspires children to value themselves and the unique qualities in others through the provision of environments and experiences that foster cooperative play, inquiry and self-discovery. We embrace diversity to better reflect and serve our community. We strive to attract and retain talented and diverse people, and to create an inclusive environment where all Board members and employees can contribute to their fullest potential. In a changing world in which we endeavor to improve our business, it is imperative that Great Explorations reflect the diversity of cultures, thinking and perspectives of its current and prospective guests. Tapping the skills, ideas and perspectives of a diverse workforce will make us a better company, and is key to sustaining our continued growth.