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Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Day at the Museum

Today was a big day for the baby. We took her to the Children's Museum of Tucson. I'd originally planned to go this past Thursday since we'd be in the area anyway, but while looking online for admission prices, I saw they offered reduced admission on the second Saturday of the month to coincide with the monthly Second Saturday street fair in downtown Tucson. Always the frugal family, we set Saturday to be the day.

The front of the building. Picture found here
Memorial out in front of the fence. Caption says "To the memories of the citizens of the State of Arizona who gave their lives so that we might live in peace and unafraid in this stark borderland"

Built in 1901 with a grant from the esteemed Andrew Carnegie foundation, the Children's Museum was originally the Tucson Public Library. It served as the main library for the city until 1989, when the current Tucson Public Library (now called Joel D. Valdez Library) moved to its current location on Stone and Pennington. The Children's Museum was established shortly thereafter.
A brief history of the building that houses the Children's Museum

It was very loud and chaotic upon entering the building, as to be expected when there are tons of kids around. But for $2 admission (regular price $8), it couldn't be bad.

I admit, I'm somewhat spoiled. Growing up in the Chicago area, there were a number of high quality museums to go to with plenty of exhibits to delight the senses. My impressions of the exhibits were disappointing compared to what I'd experienced growing up. But, I'm not in Chicago anymore. Besides, as a parent, I have to swallow my pride. I would have never otherwise set foot in this building if I didn't have a child.

The first exhibit we visited was one that was electricity based. In addition to the classic plasma ball, there was a crank generator, a Tesla coil, an interactive circuit, and a few other electricity-related items. Of all the exhibits we saw, this was my favorite one. My husband particularly liked this exhibit, since he'd been associated with various forms of electricity from childhood on up and even worked as an electrician for a time.
Daddy the mad electrical genius

Mommy's turn to be a mad scientist

The generator

Standing proudly at the device named for one of my fellow countrymen, Nikola Tesla

Next up was a small section dedicated to Public Safety. In there was a shell of an old Tucson Fire Dept. truck and a non-working Tucson Police Department motorcycle. I was pleased to see that TPD uses Kawasaki for their bikes. I have a high opinion of Japanese motorcycles.

From there, we made our way to the gravity exhibit. The best part of this exhibit was building a tube path and dropping a ping pong ball down it. The most annoying part of this exhibit, however, was a wheel loaded with jangly things that you cranked to see centripetal force in action. It sounded like broken glass, and the baby wasn't too fond of that.

Watch the marble...

The next room was a combination art studio and a play area for kids under 4. Since there was plenty of wifi available in the building, my husband left me in here for a bit to go to the lobby and check his emails. Since Darija is only a few days short of three months, there really wasn't much she could DO. But, I decided to make a little paper project for Daddy, with her "supervising". I held up the different items and explained what they were. She loved the seahorse stencil I'd drawn. While there was plenty of paper, markers, and crayons out and about, I had a heluva time hunting down glue. I eventually found a staff member to replenish the glue container, but that delayed me more than I'd liked. By this time, Darija was hungry and began to fuss. When my husband returned and saw our little project, he was pleased to see it. I had him watch the stroller while I retreated to a quiet corner of the play area and nursed her for a bit. Amazingly enough, nobody bothered me, though one cute toddler walked over and handed me a toy. Guess she thought I needed something to play with.

Now fed, we proceeded to the next room. This room was a combination of things like permutations for cracking a safe, blowers with levitating balls, a prism, soundwaves, and a tubing setup that blew soft pompom-like balls all over the place. My favorite part of this exhibit was the prism, where I had to slide a diffuser and lenses to separate the red, green, and blue colors. It took a bit of trying, but I did it. Darija, on the other hand, was fascinated by the sound waves. She stared intently at the bitty plastic balls as they vibrated according to frequency and volume.

Prism (L), roller coaster (R), and Carl Sagan

After a short potty break, we visited trains. They had a model train with a camera mounted on it buzzing around the top of the room that I thought was cute. It certainly looked like a typical train that buzzes through on its way east from San Diego.


Steam locomotives poster

Little pulley cart

Modern diesel and electric locomotives

Last, but not least, was the biology exhibit. The best part of this exhibit (aside from the giant representations of body parts on the wall) was the pets room. There were posters showing the different breeds of cats, as well as the skeletal makeup of a cat. Since we have cats of our own, it's important that our children be familiar with their biological makeup. The main room in the exhibit was a mock grocery store, filled with fake foods for "purchase".

Daddy's Eye of Sauron

The mouth going "BLEHH!"

Finally, we ended our day in the tech room. This exhibit featured plenty of touchscreens to play on and explore. There was also a large cabinet filled with Mickey Mouse items (toys, books, figurines, etc) that didn't really seem to fit there. But, it was interesting to see how Mickey evolved through the decades.

By this point, we were both pretty tired from walking around, and the baby fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Since the sky was getting dark and looking like it was gonna rain, we headed home to eat and rest.

She fell asleep like this just as I'd put her in the stroller and was about to buckle her in to leave

Thus ended our day at the museum. We'll definitely be coming back here as Darija gets older, and our family expands. It's well-worth the $2 admission.

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