It took nine months of thoughtful planning and construction, and just over $10M in funding. The result? A dozen new and revamped permanent galleries at the Children’s Museum guaranteed to encourage laughter, playtime and learning. These big renovations were revealed just in time for the museum’s silver anniversary. While all those facts and figures are impressive, what really matters to its most precious audience is the fun factor. Here are some highlights that have kids buzzing, earning this family fun spot Where Winnipeg magazine’s 2011 Attraction of the Year.
No need to worry about spilled spaghetti sauce or sticky fingers at the Lasagna Lookout play structure as little ones interact with a favourite food in an unexpected way. The shrieks and giggles begin as the race is on up five ‘kid-sized’ storeys to the top of this jungle gym. Elements of Italian cuisine are cleverly integrated throughout the structure. Scurry through plastic macaroni tubes and climb through cheese holes, while hunting for red, foam tomatoes hidden throughout. These coveted tomato treasures are destined for jumbo-sized pasta sauce bins on ground level. Along the way, gigantic rubber meatballs triple the size of your head dangle from the roof, providing endless opportunity to punch, fall and duck these obstacles. An incredible bird’s eye view of the colourful gallery delights, and of course a wave to the pin-sized adults down below is part of the excitement. The yellow cube at the bottom creates a frenzy as foam ‘spaghetti’ noodles thread through holes in the wall to create a maze of fun patterns.
2. Pop M’Art
‘Shop’ till you drop for the zaniest art supplies that stretch the imagination in this artistic zone. Part of the thrill comes from stepping on tip toes and peeking into multiple wooden bins to see what materials are destined to be the next hot piece of art. The stock is always changing—plastic sippy cup lids, strips of foam, confetti and old register ribbon are diverted from waste and given new life. Long communal tables are creative hotbeds as kids work their wizardry with scissors, glue, crayons and paper.
Picture a giant slide covered in a rainbow of colour blocks—black, white, blue, purple, yellow and orange. Kids relish the wind in their hair and the blur of colours as they slide down over, and over, and over again. At second glance, the tunnel looks like a giant smiley face from the front. The slide is the mouth and a flight of stairs up to two plastic bubble window lookout points—the eyes—offer another fun top-level view.
4. Tumble Zone
Grab your most trusted pals for some serious teamwork in construction. Build your own unique cityscape using working toy cranes and lightweight, soft foam pieces that sub in for traditional building blocks. Caregivers are often called on to help place that final, satisfying brick on top. Of course, half the fun is knocking it all down and starting over again.
5. Milk Machine
Cowabunga! A larger-than-life, hulking cow illustration appears to keep a watchful eye from the corner of the museum. Walk around to the other side of the wall and be amazed at a mind-boggling web of interconnecting plastic tubes, representing the process that milk travels from cow to carton. Here, only one tube is hooked up to a giant milk carton. It’s up to curious minds to solve the puzzle and direct white, fluffy pompoms and handkerchiefs to the final carton destination using blasts of air. Flick dials to find the correct route. Alter the air flow path and it sends the pompom zooming through tubes before it’s spit out and lands on tiny busy bodies below.Fun facts about dairy farming are written on interactive panels throughout.
6. Engine House
A prominent fixture in the Children’s Museum, this powerful train engine built in 1952 sets the playful stage. Get an up-close-and-personal view of the gears, levers and pulleys that make a real train run in Engine House. Futuristic flashing blue, red, yellow and green lights take this train into the 21st century. A tiny tunnel running underneath the 100-year-old pullman car gives little ones an advantageous short-cut—adults have to walk through or around the train to reach the other side.
7. The Characters
The galleries aren’t the only interactive features in the museum. A playful, colourful cast of six costumed characters engage visitors with the galleries even further, calling on kids to help with quests. The loud and proud museum mayor loves to boast about the gallery—but he tends to lose his key, It’s up to guests to explore and hunt the hidden treasure down. The curious field trip kid asks precocious questions for additional knowledge and lots of laughs. Characters rotate every day, so adventures are always changing.