New Gilbert House Play Area

Posted on August 2, 2022

SALEM, Ore. 2 August 2022 — In a few short weeks, Salem’s Gilbert House Children’s Museum will break ground on an updated Outdoor Discovery Play Area. The project is made possible by an Impact Partnership grant from Maps Community Foundation and other donors. The play area has been part of the museum since it was first added in 1998. Not only is it designed to be intellectually and physically engaging for children — it’s just a whole lot of fun. The refreshed Outdoor Discovery Play Area will be modernized for accessibility to accommodate children with varying physical abilities.   

The Maps Community Foundation has donated $50,000 to the Gilbert House to-date. In 2020, MCF gave $25,000 for the new “Bill’s Bubble Factory” bubble room; and another $25,000 in 2022 for this outdoor play area. The Gilbert House and Maps Community Foundation share a focus on life-long learning and creating educational opportunities for Mid-Willamette Valley residents; therefore, theirs is a natural partnership. 

The Foundation was founded in 2010 as the charitable branch of Maps Credit Union and focuses on donations in three impact areas: education, economic empowerment and vibrant communities. 

The Gilbert House is one of six Foundation Impact Partnership grants given since 2020. Other partnerships include:

  • Family YMCA of Marion and Polk Counties’ new downtown Salem facility;
  • Willamette Career Academy’s new Career Technical Education school for rural high school students;
  • Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Marion and Polk Counties’ new Epping Homestead Branch in northeast Salem; 
  • Center for Hope & Safety’s Hope Plaza project; and 
  • Salem Health Foundation’s Families Matter project.

“Impact Partnerships launched as a way for us to contribute larger gifts to local nonprofit capital projects that will have a significant positive impact on our community for years to come, and that provide longer-term opportunities for our team to engage hands-on with our give-back work,” said Kim Hanson, Maps Community Foundation Executive Director. 

“Gilbert House Children’s Museum is grateful to work with Maps Community Foundation,” said Alicia Bay, Executive Director. “We are particularly delighted to partner to renovate our outdoor play area to make it more inclusive and bring up-to-date play opportunities for families.”

Many popular features such as the iconic Erector set, dining and music pavilions will remain as part of the updated Outdoor Discovery Play Area. The Erector set will expand to include exhibit space within the interior spaces of the structure for expanded play. New features will include sensory and mobility friendly nature-based playscapes like the Dig & Discover sand area, Rain & Rainbows sensory garden and the Sticks & Fabric fort building area. The goal is to provide a safe place for children to engage in play that appropriately fits their needs and abilities. 

The Outdoor Discovery Play Area will be closed during renovations and is expected to reopen April 2023. Other attractions like the Bill’s Bubble Factory, engineering studio and creative space will remain open and ready for play. 

Learn more about the Maps Community Foundation and view the Gilbert House Children’s Museum video, visit and to learn more about the Outdoor Discovery Play Area project, visit the Gilbert House Children’s Museum website at  

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About Maps Community Foundation
Maps Community Foundation is the philanthropic branch of Maps Credit Union, a member-owned financial cooperative with 73,000 members and 10 full-service branches serving the Mid-Willamette Valley region. With a mission of enriching the lives of members and community, the Foundation focuses on improving the quality of life in the communities served by Maps. Community investments are directed in three impact areas: Education, Economic Empowerment, and Vibrant Communities. The Foundation is funded through a penny per swipe program and additional Maps contributions. In 2021, the Foundation distributed more than $300,000 locally. To learn more, visit under “Community Foundation.” 

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