Dusty, stuffy museums are thankfully a thing of the past! Many museum programs today are designed specifically with touchy toddlers in mind — because interaction leads to creative learning. Check out our area guide for programs that will fire up your kids’ imaginations!
ART PLAY SUMMER SEND OFF
UnMuseum at Contemporary Arts Center (CAC)
44 E. 6th St., Cincinnati
Thursday, Aug. 31, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Cost is free members, $5 non-members
Call 513-345-8504 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Every Thursday (minus Thanksgiving), 3- to 6-year-olds gather in the UnMuseum to explore their artistic sides during Art Play. August themes vary weekly, from creating art inspired by stained glass to making art from everyday objects. The final Art Play of summer, a variety of crafts will be offered. Afterward, stay and relax with free kid-friendly yoga or browse through the masterpieces on display at the UnMuseum.
The UnMuseum houses works such as “Rockin’ Trailor,” a trailor pieced together with signs from Route 66; “Deep Space,” featuring a beautifully colored and immersive dome; and “Wobble,” a furry piece of art that simulates the safety of a cocoon. Each artwork in the UnMuseum is a sensory-filled experience for kids of all ages. Strollers are welcome, and there are diaper changing stations in the 6th floor restrooms. Hungry? Grab a bite to eat at Bottle & Basket in the CAC lobby.
Rosenthal Education Center at Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM)
953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati
Wednesdays 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Cost is free. Registration is not required.
The Rosenthal Education Center (REC) is a haven for little art enthusiasts. The center is stocked with art supplies and hands-on activities. Check out one of the weekly REC Reads programs, a 30-minute event where toddlers and preschoolers hear stories, sing songs and participate in immersive sensory activities. Then, stay and explore the current “pattern and texture” theme at the REC.
The CAM is friendly towards young Picasso’s. Family restrooms are located on the ground and first floors, and all handicap accessible restrooms are equipped with diaper changing stations. Strollers are permitted, but you can borrow a free one from a limited supply near the main entrance. You can also check out a “See Play Learn Kit” from the visitors services desk, to get the most of your visit. These borrowed kits include a map, flashcards with critical thinking questions, a puppet, binoculars, a magnetic puzzle, two children’s books about art and a sketchbook with pencils. If you work up an appetite, the Terrace Cafe offers lunches, or pack a picnic for nearby Eden Park.
THIRD SUNDAY FUNDAY: DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
Taft Museum of Art
316 Pike St., Cincinnati
Sunday, Aug. 20, 1 – 4 p.m.
Cost is free. Registration is not required.
Join the Taft Museum of Art as it celebrates man’s best friend during August Sunday Funday. Create canine-themed crafts, browse pup-filled artwork, and at 2 p.m., get up close and personal with a furry friend from the SPCA.
The Taft Museum of Art is a family friendly museum with programs for newbie museum visitors. Single strollers are allowed at the Taft, and snacks are available for purchase at the Lindner Family Cafe. Every third Sunday is a Funday, so mark your calendars. Also, make sure to check out Taft Jr., returning in September, with your 3- to 5-year-olds. Kids learn all about museum etiquette as they hear a story, observe and create art.
TOT TUESDAYS: AIRPLANES
Behringer Crawford Museum
1600 Montague Road, Covington, KY
Tuesday, Aug. 15, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Cost is $9 adults, $5 children, free members (plus $1 craft fee per child). Registration is not required.
Join this monthly program designed to prepare preschoolers for school by providing reading readiness and socialization. Airplanes are the August theme for Tot Tuesday; your preschooler will love hearing airplane tales and crafting a winged wonder.
Strollers are permitted at the museum; a family restroom is available on the first floor, and the third floor restrooms are all equipped with diaper changing stations. Exhibits focus on trains, planes and automobiles, with many hands-on components for little ones. Outside, investigate the NaturePlay playspace which explores local plants and insects. It also houses a fossil dig pit, log cabin, flat boat and a cave. Hungry? Pack a picnic for nearby Devou Park, and take in the breathtaking panoramic view of the city.
SEW WHAT?! BEAN BAGS IN KIDSPACE
Cincinnati Museum Center
1301 Western Ave., Cincinnati
Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 p.m.
Cost is $8.50 adults, $6.50 children, $4.50 toddlers, free members. Registration is not required.
Cincinnati Museum Center may be currently under construction, but the Duke Energy Children’s Museum (DECM) is open, and the new KidSPACE helps kids construct super-cool crafts. This new area encourages science, technology, engineering, art and math through hands-on activities and crafts. The Sew WHAT?! program encourages kids to create their own bean bags, too.
Kids can also pick up groceries, mail a letter and fill up their tank in Kids Town. Or, mosey on over to the Little Sprouts Farm to chug along at a train table, sort fruits and veggies, climb up and slide down the barn, or even ride a car that’s transporting chickens.
Also located in the Little Sprouts Farm is the Parent Resource Center, a quiet place to read (or check out) parenting books provided by the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. It’s an ideal spot for nursing mothers seeking privacy. Pack a meal to be enjoyed in the DECM lobby, or buy one from the food and refreshment cart.
More to Explore with the Family!
STATE PARK MUSEUM
3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091
Visit the birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology to view fossil specimens at the Big Bone Lick Museum, and then explore the beautiful state park. Make sure to walk the bison trail to meet the largest North American land mammal.
CINCINNATI FIRE MUSEUM
315 W. Court St., Cincinnati, OH 45202
Admission: $8 adults, $6 ages 7 – 17, free ages 6 and younger
Ring the alarm and sound the sirens. Kids love sliding down the fire pole and gazing upon vintage fire engines. Brush up on your fire safety with a visit to the Safe House, and make an emergency exit plan with your family. A trip to the fire museum could literally save your life.
CINCINNATI REDS HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM
100 Joe Nuxhall Way Cincinnati, OH 45202
Admission: $10 adults, $8 student pass, free ages 4 and younger
7379 Squire Court, West Chester, OH 45069
Admission: $13.95 adults, $9.95 ages 3 – 12, free ages 2 and younger
Guests of ALL ages will delight in the details of the miniatures and models in the world’s largest train display. Learn about the history of locomotives in the American Railroad Museum, while little engineers operate a choo-choo on the Kids Express and enjoy Narrow Gauge Kids Train rides. Burn off even more steam in Imagination Junction, a 5,000- square-foot-train-themed play area then fuel up in the café.
BOONSHOFT MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY
2600 Deweese Pkwy., Dayton, OH 45414
Admission: $14.50 adults, $11.50 ages 3 – 17
Preschoolers will enjoy the Kids Place, older kids will think the Hall of the Universe is out of this world, and everyone will enjoy the Discovery Zoo critters.
333 W. Broad St.,Columbus, OH 43215
Admission: $20 adults, $15 ages 2 – 12, free for Cincinnati Museum Center members
Toddlers enjoy sensory experiences at the Kidspace, which includes a farm, grocery store, doctors office and water play area. Unlocking the mysteries of H2O amazes everyone at the Oceans exhibit, or you can blast off in the Space exhibit. If you’re an adventure seeker, take a ride on a unicycle two stories above the ground.
3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208-4716
Admission prices vary
This Children’s Museum is so amazing that even dinosaurs are trying to get in. Kid friendly exhibits range from topics such as space, dinosaurs, trains, Hot Wheels, the circus, travel and history.
KENTUCKY SCIENCE CENTER
727 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202
Admission: $13 adults, $11 children, free for Cincinnati Museum Center members
Exhibits like Science in Play, The World Around Us, The World Within Us, and The World We Create keep little scientists busy making discoveries all day. Check out an educational film on their four-story movie screen while you’re there, too.