The Austin Children’s Museum is dead… Long live the Austin Children’s Museum!
That’s right — the Austin Children’s Museum has closed its downtown location as of September 1, but don’t despair! It will reopen in December, re-imagined as the Thinkery, in a new location in the Mueller complex.
“The new facility is amazing,” says Misty Whited, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the museum. “It’s coming together really well — it’s exciting.”
The new campus boasts 40,000 square feet of exhibit and activity space, and focuses on “STEAM” education — science, technology, engineering, art and math — with healthy living thrown in for good measure.
In the meantime, families won’t have to miss out on the museum’s offerings. The Thinkery, in a partnership with Sustainable Food Center, is embracing a “museum without walls” concept, hosting exhibits at several area farmers markets, including SFC markets at Sunset Valley, Downtown, East and the Triangle, as well as Mueller Farmers’ Market.
“We’ll have a tent and staff there [at each of the markets] through the end of November for families to come and engage with,” says Whited. Exhibits include those centered around robots, art, chromatography, gardening (dirt and seeds) and design challenges (repurposing materials). A recent exhibit at the Sunset Valley market included “vibro-bots” — robots assembled with components you can find in your own home (or at the very least your neighborhood hardware store).
The museum is also hosting its popular Baby Bloomers program outdoors until the new facility opens, at Lake Park across from the new Thinkery. Aimed at the 0-3 set, these programs feature storytime, sing-a-longs and a Little Explorer’s Lab, which aims to help develop sensory, processing, hand-eye and motor coordination through play and interaction.
For dates, times and locations of the museum’s events, including farmers market exhibits and Baby Bloomers, check the calendar at thinkeryaustin.org/events.
There is a lot to look forward to once the new location opens, including many new exhibits — about 95% of them new, says Whited. For example, “Bloom” is a garden-themed sensory play space designed for infants and toddlers, and “Currents” is a hands-on aquatic exhibit that allows young visitors to explore fluid dynamics and the connections between water and sound. A custom-designed climber, located in the “Our Backyard” area — still under construction — challenges kids to navigate routes including log stumps, nets and platforms and rope ladders, and includes a lower netted area designed for young children.
While the old museum was best for kids under age 6 or 7, the new Thinkery strives to appeal to older children as well.
“We want to engage families with a newborn all the way up to 11 years old, and keep them all engaged the whole way,” says Whited. There will be plenty of staff-led activities that kids can get involved in for a few minutes, or absorbed in for an hour. “Our goal is really to get families engaging and learning together,” she says.
The Thinkery will open in its new location, at 1830 Simond Avenue in Mueller, the weekend of December 7 and 8. There will be a special members-only preview weekend November 30 and December 1.
For updates on the Thinkery’s progress toward opening, a calendar of events in the interim and more, you can follow their Facebook page at facebook.com/thethinkery, or check out their new web site at thinkeryaustin.org.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/lauren.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Lauren Walz is a freelance writer and editor and mama to a two-year-old girl. While she’s quick to brag about being a fifth-generation Texan, Lauren moved to Northern California in 2004 after graduating from UT Law and lived in the Silicon Valley area until last spring, when she and her family were drawn back to Austin. Lauren is busy getting re-acquainted with her old stomping grounds and is astonished by how the food and wine scene has changed in Austin in the past 8 years. Lauren also blogs about cooking and parenthood on gourmetveggiemama.com.[/author_info] [/author]