When the museum was in its first building it struggled to get just 1,000 people through the door. But at the current 18,000 square foot facility, it averages 50,000 visitors per year.
The current facility was built in memory of Alia Arram, who died 16 years ago. Her family says it was her love of children that prompted them to keep the museum's growth alive.
"You know she loved children and they were a big part of her life as she was growing up," said Alia's parents Barbara and Essam Arram. "She loved children so I think she would have thought this was the best way."
Officials say it's also Kearney's understanding of the importance of children that makes the museum so beneficial to the community.
"We do a lot for kids and the children's museum is right along with that," said Executive Director Tara Knuth. "We provide a place for families to come together to slow down, to not have the distraction of everyday life, to live in the moment with your child, and it's something you can't get everywhere. There's just too much that's pulling us in, too many directions. Families need this place."
Thursday's birthday celebration honored Alia Arram and the museum, which started in May of 1989.