History | Hands-On House

Our Story

In 1982, the concept of a children’s museum was born for Lancaster County. Through a task force comprised of the Junior League of Lancaster and community members, land and funds were secured to bring their vision to fruition. In 1984-85, the Pierce Landis House in Landis Valley, state acquired property and museum, was made available as the future site of the children’s museum. With funds allocated from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Junior League of Lancaster, renovation commenced to meet the labor and industry codes and make the historic farmhouse suitable to be a children’s museum.

In 1986, a Board of Directors and name for the museum, Hands-on House, were established. That same year, the Board filed articles of incorporation as the Children’s Museum of Lancaster, Inc. With the support of additional fundraising projects, Hands-on House, Children’s Museum of Lancaster, a nonprofit interactive and hands-on learning children’s museum, opened its doors to the public in October 1987.

(Read more about our first location from our Fall 1990 newsletter, “Hands-on House Handprints”)

For the first twelve years of operation, this farmhouse location offered much charm and character; however, it severely limited the Museum’s ability to grow. In February 2000, Hands-on House moved into an expanded, newly constructed 7,300 square foot building. The new facility was specifically designed to meet the needs of a children’s museum.

Approximately 3,900 square feet of the building currently houses interactive, hands-on exhibits. In February 2017, two classrooms were transformed into our newest exhibit, “The Clubhouse,” featuring STEM  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and Art activities, as well as classes and birthday parties. Hands-on House Children’s Museum of Lancaster was designed to meet the learning needs of children ages 2-10 and their families, and continues to be developed to create learning experiences for children and their families through play.