Bell Museum (free on Sundays): This museum is so fun and it’s perfect for toddlers. The numerous dioramas depict animals in their natural habitats. They feature animals in intricate winter and summer scenes, and they’re thoughtfully done, with lots of beautiful and cute details, such as one scene where a mouse has fallen backward onto the ground. But the best part of the museum for the toddlers is the Touch and See room. Filled with life-size taxidermy animals – moose, bear, beaver, big cat – as well as live animals- snakes, bugs, spiders- plus lots of touch and see stations, this room has numerous fun things for children to explore. I only wish the museum labeled all the items. My child asked about some of the items and without labels, I’m not sure if I identified them correctly. The museum is getting a new home and won’t be open until summer 2018. We can’t wait for its return so we can explore some more. (By the way, the stuffed toys are part of a photo book project).
MIA Family Day: I thought my three-year-old might be too young to appreciate the art. I was proven wrong, and I am so glad we visited the museum for Family Day. Before we entered, the Chinese dragon statues and a statue of a giant head on its side caught her attention. She loved the pillars, stopped to check out some neo-classical art, stopped in front of some porcelain figurines, enjoyed walking through a Chinese courtyard, and loved the Murakami panda and other statues in this section. It’s a fun place for a stroll, and with so much on offer, there’s sure to be something that entices your toddler. But if you get a chance, visit on a Family Day -so fun and educational!
With so many events taking place simultaneously, we had a difficult time picking what to do, but it’s a wonderful problem and the perfect solution for a picky toddler. Some activities were a quick pass-through after the toddler expressed her disinterest, some events with no lines took minutes to complete, others varied as her interest waned, and a couple – a Chinese duo playing an instrument, a woman teaching colors in Russian, a tango lesson taught in Portuguese, and a kungfu fan sequence – made a strong impression. Our toddler loves to dance, and we loved that she got to experience and to participate in some unfamiliar dance styles (and languages). (Dancing to Gotan Project is her new favorite activity). There was also a hide-and-seek game where you search for art and receive a prize and several other activities. So far this has been our favorite family museum day and it’s free – so worth a visit!
Walker Art Center Family Day: We planned to visit the museum for the family event and then head to the sculpture garden for a fall picnic. Unfortunately, construction prevented us from showing our kids Cherry and Spoon for the first time (boo), but we did enjoy the family-friendly activities inside the Walker. There were two stations on the day we visited. In one room, kids could make their own instruments by filling boxes with beads. Afterward, they could decorate the boxes with lots of colored tape, glitter, and markers set out on tables. In another area of the museum, there was another art project with punch holes and yarn. We missed a couple activities, even so, the Walker didn’t offer as many events as the MIA Family Day.