I visited The Children’s Museum at Saratoga last week to see a couple of brand-new exhibitions and a bit of rearranging that they’ve been doing lately, opening up the space to make it brighter and tinkering with what’s available.
First, there’s the Pet Vet Exhibit, designed to teach about animals and let kids pretend that they’re a veteran or a visitor bringing in their ailing furry friend.
One of my favorite parts is that the stuffed dog has one of those goofy cone-like devices that they sometimes put on animals so that they don’t nibble at a wound. But it’s also got a little exam space, a “waiting room” chair, and a little animal library.
The Pet Vet located where kids used to have building space, but apparently it wasn’t particularly well-utilized, so they consolidated a bit and created a new Build It Center Exhibit. This area is smaller, simpler, and a bit streamlined, and it’s offers up a bit more focus in the activities, with specific building challenges:
One thing I didn’t see at the moment was the fire pole. It’s been removed temporarily, and it’s going to go back in a bit closer to the fire truck. What I heard was that a bunch of kids would start climbing and get stuck, and then they’d yell for help while their adult was juggling another child and would have to sort of run an obstacle course to get to the climber. So it will be shorter and more closely tied to the fire exhibit to try to prevent that scenario.
They’re also doing a capital campaign, with the plan to expand upward and create two new rooms, for program space and exhibit space. Another plan is to work on making the bank space more fun and interactive.
I was glad that I visited the museum, because honestly? It’s been awhile. This museum is terrific for birth to ages 7 or 8, but my kids have clearly aged out of that range. We put in a lot of visits back when the kids were little. In fact, one visit that stands out is the time I was going for an official moms’ group outing, and M decided that she was done with diapers forever. Which, okay, that’s terrific, but did she have to choose the day that we were taking a long-ish car ride to a museum? It was not ideal. I remember packing several spare pairs, just in case, and I’m sure that I spent the entire visit hovering and asking if she’d like to visit the potty. Back then, the museum was looking a little worn out and threadbare, and that’s the image that’s stayed in my mind, so I was pleasantly surprised. Exhibits were clean and well-kept and fun. So if you’ve never visited, or if it’s been a while, here are a few more photos for you. On the first floor, I remembered the tree fort that’s part of a Congress Park replica and the Saratoga Trolley, but I’d forgotten about the pond life, and I loved that there were piped-in pond sounds, too:
Another exhibition element that was new to me was the Airflow Hover Table that’s part of the science area. It was super-fun experimenting with getting the ping pong balls to hover over the air current.
I’d remembered Lillian’s Andrews Attic, too, but I don’t think that I’d really explored it before, probably because during normal hours I would have had to show little kids out of my way.
I love that it’s such a quirky collection of stuff, and it’s fun to open the little drawers and trunks to find surprises, like the tea sets in one drawer.
and the School House. The School House has changing themes, and after a summer of dinosaurs, they’re doing community helpers in the classroom now.
I was really glad that I went for a visit. I feel more enthusiastic about the place now that it’s looking so much brighter and better-maintained than in the (my) Olden Days. It’s also much easier to appreciate the details when you’re not actively monitoring your child for fear that they’ll pee on something!