Most museums are places of reflection, education and not touching the exhibits. Now, take a young child to a museum and see how long they last. Every child likes to play and explore, draw, act silly, chatter and sing. Being asked not to touch something for long periods of time is not a welcome part of any child's day. Children's museums give young visitors a chance to touch, feel, listen to and sometimes taste exhibits. Below are children's museums that would delight any youngster.
The Children's Museum at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
This museum opened in 1989, and is located in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, across the Ottawa River from Ottawa. The theme of the museum is "The Great Adventure", letting children learn about life in other parts of the world, and in their own neighbourhoods through interaction, with more than 30 permanent exhibits. The International Village gives children a chance to role play in different market settings, such as a North African souk. Children can prepare different foods, play with current and historical toys, listen to storytellers, or drop in to special workshops.
Location: Canadian Museum of Civilization - 100 Laurier Street, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8
The Children's Discovery Museum on the Saskatchewan
This is a museum with a mission. While it serves children through interactive, hands-on exhibits, it also focuses on ensuring that exhibits are compatible with school curriculum. It is also financially accessible, ensuring that all children get to experience the museum through its Access program. Children can take care of animals at the Muddy Paws Animal Clinic, dress up and perform on The Performance Arts Stage, build a campfire at the replica North Woods Campsite, or create a masterpiece in The Arts and Crafts Room.
Location: Market Mall, 2325 Preston Avenue South, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
The Hamilton Children's Museum
The Hamilton Children's Museum is a smaller museum, and is very popular with children in the area. Children can dine and dance in the Doo Wop Diner, be a TV star at the Children's Museum Theatre Space, or build mazes and towers at the Brain Teaser exhibit.
NOTE: As of October 2013, the museum is closed for structural repairs, and authorities estimate that it will remain closed for six months to a year. By Autumn of 2014, it is expected that the building will be open. However, someone is on site and you can call 905-546-4848, email email@example.com or visit their website for progress updates.
Location: 1072 Main St. East, Hamilton, Ontario
Musée Pour Enfants de Laval
The Musée Pour Enfants de Laval, aimed at children two to eight years of age, gives children the chance to experience what people do in their day to day lives. Children can climb on a fire truck, shop at a pretend grocery, and be a veterinarian, a sea captain, a mechanic, archaeologist or teacher. They can dress up, dance, sing and perform.
Location: 3805 Boulevard Curé-Labelle Laval, QC
Creative Kids Museum
Part of the TELUS World of Science Calgary, inside the TELUS Spark facility, the Creative Kids Museum is a place where children can learn, explore and grow. From toddler to tween, there are interactive exhibits for every age. Children can have fun and learn in the water play area, climb on the climbing structure, and design their own inventions.
Location: TELUS Spark, 220 St. George's Drive NE, Calgary, Alberta
THEMUSEUM began as a children's museum in 2002. Over the next few years, it changed its focus to include the whole family, but so many of the permanent exhibits are interactive, that, although not technically a children's museum anymore, it is still a great place to bring children, whether toddler or tween. TotSpot, for children 4 and under, is a place of colour and other visual and tactile delights. Music lovers, or children who just want to make some noise, can dance on the Walking Piano or play drums on the Beat Bender. Children, and their parents, can lie on a Bed of Nails, create their shadow on a phosphorescent wall, or have a boat race at the Thoughts Flow Water Table.
Location: 10 King Street West, Kitchener, ON N2G 1A3
New Brunswick Museum/Museé du Nouveau-Brunswick
To be honest, The New Brunswick Museum is not a children's museum. It is a museum that puts a lot of its focus on the maritime history of the province. However, it is also a special place that recognises the needs of its youngest visitors. Because of that, the museum sits on this list. Staff at the museum asked Grade 4 and 5 students at Prince Charles School in Saint John to help develop the Kid's Guide to the New Brunswick Museum, which points out special features of the museums, showcases student art and writing, and encourages child visitors to add their own notes and memories to the guide. There are selections of youth programs, toddlers can learn about ocean creatures at Swimming Silly, and children in Grades 2 to 8 can vote for their favourite New Brunswick history maker at Museum Idol. Exhibits about the environment, First Nation and Acadian peoples are all designed for students to learn more about their province.
Location: Market Square, Saint John, New Brunswick
London Children's Museum
The London Children's Museum has been delighting children for 30 years. Everything in the museum is touchable and playable. Children can pretend that they are learning and teaching in a one room schoolhouse. They can also dig for dinosaurs, or dress up as one, in the Dinosaurs Gallery, and explore the underground in the caves exhibit. Very young children can come, with their parents, to the Early Years Play Dates. The museum encourages children ages 9 to 12 to join the Tween Council and help plan events at the museum.
Location: 21 Wharncliffe Road South, London, Ontario
Winnipeg Children's Museum
Part of Winnipeg children's lives for 25 years, this museum is a truly interactive experience for young visitors. Children can sit in the Milk Machine and look through the eyes of a cow, or move through the Illusion Tunnel to test their perceptions of reality. They can create works of art at Pop M'Art or walk through Lasagna Lookout. The museum is special because it invites children to be part of the Children's Advisory Council, and help the museum develop new events, exhibits and workshops.
Location: 45 Forks Market Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba
By: Kim Morrisseau