Gone are the days when museums were ostentatious buildings with touch-me-not exhibits; where you felt like the chatter and inquisitive fingers of children would be frowned upon. While many modern museums include family-friendly exhibits, there are some that focus specifically on the younger generation. Here are some museums to visit during the upcoming school holidays.
1. Children’s Museum Indianapolis – Indiana, USA
The Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World exhibition, featuring a life-sized dinosaur breaking out of the building (above), is this museum’s biggest hit. Housed under its Natural Science Collection, it comprises exhibits related to zoology, botany and geology. Other domains within the five floors of exhibition halls in the Children’s Museum Indianapolis include the American Collection (featuring objects that reflect trends in popular culture) and the Cultural World Collection (of artefacts illustrating human experiences worldwide). According to the Association of Children’s Museums, this museum, established in 1925, still holds the record for being the largest children’s museum in the world.
2. COSI: Center of Science and Industry – Ohio, USA
Climb into an actual submarine in an area themed Ocean, time-travel in Progress, witness real-life research in Lab Spaces, ”lift” a car in the outdoor Big Science Park and experience the wonders of the universe through the seven-storey Extreme Screen Theatre. In Space, you can ride in a space capsule, guide a lunar module down to the moon or walk in zero gravity to retrieve a faulty Hubble Space Telescope. These are just some voyages of discovery that you can go on at COSI: Center of Science and Industry. The centre in Columbus, Ohio, boasts over 300 interactive exhibits (above) spread over 30,000 sq m of exhibition space.
3. V&A Museum of Childhood – London, England
The Museum of Childhood offers a unique insight into how children might have lived, played and thought through the ages. The national collection of childhood-related artefacts that date from the 17th century till the present include the earliest surviving English rocking horse, early dollhouses and miniatures (above), as well as a seemingly infinite number of games and toys. Besides rare hand-crafted objects, baby items – like ceramic milk bottles and wooden walkers, as well as over 6,000 pieces of garments worn by children throughout history – may fascinate visitors young and old. The museum, in London’s Bethnal Green district, is part of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
4. Zoom Kindermuseum – Vienna, Austria
Situated in the heart of Vienna’s cultural district, Zoom Kindermuseum for children up to age 14 is strongly oriented towards the arts. Children work with visual artists to explore various artistic techniques, and in an animated film studio, take on the roles of screenwriters, directors, cinematographers, photographers and sound engineers. In the museum’s other key areas, children can learn about history (including life in the Middle Ages), the ocean and science. The museum conveys knowledge through play – from stimulating motor skills and cognitive abilities in the youngest visitors to engaging the curiosity of older kids (and adults too). Zoom Kindermuseum, Austria’s first museum specially catering to children, was established in 1994.
5. The Railway Museum – Saitama, Japan
Operate and ride on trains from the D51 steam locomotive – like Hiro in the popular children’s TV series Thomas & Friends – to the ultra-modern Shinkansen or “bullet” train on driving simulators. Assemble carriages and pretend to be a station master. Railway fans of all ages will enjoy these hands-on experiences at the Railway Museum where they can also view actual train cars, beautifully designed dioramas and learn about locomotives that date back to the early Meiji era. The museum in Saitama City – just a half-hour train ride out of Tokyo – was built in 2007 as part of the East Japan Railway Company’s 20th-anniversary memorial project.
– TEXT BY MANDY LIM BEITLER
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.