Des Moines Children’s Museum Details and Programming

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Des Moines Children’s Museum Details and Programming

The Des Moines Children’s Museum’s focus is to build the foundation of lifelong learning through the power of play. They seek to make play accessible for all children and to connect families in our community. It started with a dream by two local moms with a traveling exhibit, which quickly blossomed into a physical location at Valley West Mall in Des Moines, Iowa. While the majority who come to play are young children, older children can have just as much fun exploring the hands-on exhibits. It is a family museum. The Des Moines Children’s Museum is filled with interactive exhibits, offers a variety of programs, and is a positive resource in our community. Learn more about the museum and fun programming held each week.

Bookmark these other fun things to do in Des Moines and the surrounding community:

Des Moines Children's Museum, Des Moines, Iowa, Valley West Mall, kids museums, children's museum, programming


1551 Valley W Dr Suite 108

West Des Moines, IA 50266

They are located on the lower level of Valley West Mall near the play area. Enjoy a fun day spending time at the museum, then climb and jump in the mall play area followed by lunch at the mall.

What is the best way to contact the Des Moines Children’s Museum?

The best way to contact the staff and volunteers at the museum for additional information is via email or phone.

Email address –

Phone number – 515-218-8344

Regular Museum Hours

Sunday: Closed. However, Sundays can be booked online for private birthday parties.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (extended evening hours on Wednesdays)

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Admission is $6 for children ages 1 to 10 years old. Under 1 year and over 10 years are free admission, but a donation is appreciated. The museum also participates in the Museums for All Admission program. If you show your EBT or WIC card admission is $2.

They also offer punch cards for $25 for 5 visits or an Annual Membership which is $125 for unlimited visits for up to 6 members of the same household, and 50% off admission to museums participating in the Association of Children’s Museums reciprocal network.

In addition, the Des Moines Children’s Museum participates in the Adventure Pass Program. Visit your local library to check out a free admission pass to visit the museum for free!

Birthday Parties

The museum is a popular spot to host birthday parties and they recently expanded to add more room. Choose between private parties and parties during open hours. Parties during open hours cost $150 and include admission for 15 children and a two-hour reservation in a private party room. Add the XL option for larger parties.

Private parties cost $250 and are scheduled outside of museum hours for a two-hour time slot with the use of the museum for your party only and a private party room. Consider the XL option for larger parties.

Schedule online if more than 2 weeks in advance or call the museum at 515-218-8344.

Fun Programming

The Des Moines Children’s Museum has many fun programs for families from daily activities to holiday celebrations, special classes, and annual events.

Weekly Activities

Weekly activities are included with admission. Check their Facebook page each week for specific activities.

Mondays: Messy Labs are Mondays at 10 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and include sensory play with what else.. messy things! And the best part is you don’t have to worry about clean up! These activities are great for kids who love to explore different textures, scents, and objects. Each week there are new messy sensory activities to discover whether it’s slime, play-dough, kinetic sand, sensory bins, painting, and more.

Tuesdays: S.T.E.A.M. Tuesdays (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. are geared toward music and art. Activities rotate each week and may include making and/or playing different instruments, meditation, exploring books, yoga, and more.

Wednesdays: Classes are held for babies and the littlest learners on this day.

  • Museum Babies: From 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. enjoy this FREE special time for babies under one and their caregivers to socialize and connect with other families. Older siblings are welcome and can play for free as well. Families can stay after the hour to continue to enjoy the museum.
  • Little Learners: From 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. children ages 0-3 can enjoy special activities and a story. Activities change each week and may include play-dough, sensory bins, crafts, and more.

Thursdays: S.T.E.A.M Thursdays take place at 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning and 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon. This is geared toward STEM activities and may include building with objects like popsicle sticks or magnatiles, tie dying, making different mixtures, and painting.

Fridays: Crafty Lab Fridays take place at 10:00 a.m. and 1 p.m. Join Ms. Lily for a small group activity every Friday for two separate classes during the day where something is new, messy, and crafty every time. No registration is required, this class is included with museum admission!

Other Events

Sensory Sensitive: The Des Moines Children’s Museum is certified through KultureCity as a Certified Sensory Inclusive Venue. This means staff has received training for interacting with children with sensory differences. They hold a free monthly event on the 4th Friday of each month from 5-6:30 p.m. for children on the autism spectrum and/or for those with sensory sensitivities. During this time there are sensory bins, communication boards, and a low-light calming space.

They also frequently add sensory-sensitive times for their special events. For example, they have a separate time before their Touch a Trunk event and other holiday events for those who are sensory-sensitive.

Holiday Events: The museum often holds special holiday events for children and their families such as Lights at the Museum, New Year’s at Noon, and a Valentine’s Dance.

Yearly Events

Touch a Truck: Each September they host a Touch a Truck event in the parking lot of Valley West Mall in West Des Moines. The event is free and has welcomed over 20 trucks including semi-trucks, firetrucks, ambulances, police cars, snow plows, and more. 

They also include a kid’s play area which has featured ride-on vehicles around a racetrack, Hot Wheels car wash, and playing with cars in the sand. They reserve time before the event for children who may be sensitive to sounds and noise where lights from vehicles will remain off and horns/sirens are kept to a minimum. 

Giggle Gala: This annual adult-only event is held to raise funds to help support the museum. It is full of laughs and fun with a stand-up comedian, games, and music. It typically occurs in late February or early March. Purchase tickets for the next Giggle Gala today!

Des Moines Children's Museum, Des Moines, Iowa, Valley West Mall, kids museums, children's museum, programming
Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L is an occupational therapist turned (mostly) stay-at-home mom. She has worked with adults to young toddlers and has a special interest in early childhood development targeting fine motor skills, feeding, sensory processing, and coordination. She loves incorporating this knowledge with her own two little boys through play. When she’s not running after her little ones she enjoys traveling, cooking new recipes and eating chocolate from her secret stash.

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