Does the thought of bringing your wandering wee one to a stuffy museum sound a little stressful? It doesn’t need to be! Portland is home to a museum designed for the city’s youngest citizens. With exhibits that are designed to keep little hands busy and imaginations buzzing, the Portland Children’s Museum is the perfect place for parents and kids to spend the day engaging in creative play and its about to get even better. On September 10, families have an opportunity to participate in the Grand Opening of The Market —a garden to table exhibit that is extra Portlandy. Read on to find what you can expect to find at the Grand Opening and what some of the other offerings at museum include.

photo: Portland Children’s Museum

The Museum

The Portland Children’s Museum, located on SW Canyon Road near the Oregon Zoo, is a museum that doesn’t act like a museum. Visitors won’t find precious works of art stored behind glass, instead children and their caregivers create a memorable learning experience while playing within the different interactive exhibits.

The museum’s exhibits are filled with familiar materials, objects, and spaces that children see in their daily lives. They give young museum-goers the opportunity to learn through play, even in their earliest years. The museums approach to creating each exhibit is in spired by the Reggio Emilia early childhood schools based out of Italy.

The New Market Exhibit

On September 10, The Children’s Museum reveals the grand opening of  The Market exhibit. This is an area that was formerly known as the Grasshopper Grocery Store & Cafe, and is now updated to better reflect what young ones see in their own city. This exhibit includes several areas that help tell the story of the garden to table journey that our food takes on its way to nourish us. One of the featured areas is a garden where much of the food we eat is grown. Your young grower will love exploring the world of soil and seeds and is sure to gain a better understanding of how what we grow makes to our plates play through sensory exploration and creative play.

After the garden comes the farmers market stand where goods from the garden are sold. Imagine your small farmer’s pride when you buy up all of the potatoes they have grown on their very own! And when you start feeling a little tired, head to the cafe where your young barista or baker can serve you up a snack and some coffee for a little boost before heading to the next exhibit area: the Grocery Store.

The grocery area looks very much like what little shoppers see when they walk into a local market. There’s a place to pick up grocery carts and baskets, a bakers corner with bread and baked good to choose from, and shelves stocked with all kinds of foods and goods from a variety of different cultures. This area’s diversity is a highlight and ensures that all of our young community members find the kinds of food they see and eat at home—important for inclusive play.

When you’re ready to head out, little checkers can see what it’s like to ring up the total cost of the items that carts and baskets are filled with. Sound like a lot of work? Well, sometimes work can be fun, especially when it takes place at a food cart.

That’s right, you and your budding foodie will even encounter a food cart in the new exhibit’s space. How Portlandy is that? Us Portlanders love our food carts and your youngster is sure to enjoy selling and eating from their own kid-sized cart.

The Market was designed with the help of Opal Charter School 3rd graders, and helps youth explore the role of food in their lives through an interactive and sensory experience.

photo: Portland Children’s Museum

The Grand Opening

On the day of The Grand Opening, special activities will get under way first thing in the morning. The following outlines the schedule for the day, so you can plan ahead and participate in the offerings that appeal most to your family:

Mini Farmers Market: From 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  head to the front Patio for a mini market featuring local whole fruits and veggies for guests to sample. Yum!

Peter Rabbit Meet & Greet: From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. say hello to a friendly rabbit. Peter plays in the exhibit at 45 minute increments throughout the day. He will parade guests towards the Market at 1pm for The Juice Toast.

Bee and Bloom Table: Head t the East Hall from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and check out this collaborative exhibit that teaches kids about the work bees do in the community.

Juice Toast to The Market: Don’t miss the Juice Toast at 1p.m. where guests and staff will gather around The Market. Staff will pass out small cups of juice to children and adults to use for a toast to The Market, and everyone involved in it’s amazing update!

Make Food & Flowers Inspired by The Market: From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Clay and Maker Studios families can create their own Market items using clay and recycled materials in the Maker Studio

Food Drive: Guests are invited to bring in canned food to support Oregon Food Bank

photo: April Hasson

More Exhibits

In addition to The Market, your family will have an opportunity to explore the museums many exhibits. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Pet Hospital, where visitors can act like a veterinarian to examine stuffed animals and animal x-rays, as well as the Groundwork exhibit, filled with foam “rocks” that can be scooped and used in building new landscapes. Curious climbers will love the Treehouse Exhibit where there are cozy cubbies to hole up for some peace and quiet or to read a book for a while.

After a short break in the branches of the tree house, young explorers can move on to the Twilight Trail, featuring an over-sized, back-lit peg board reminiscent of a Lite Brite. When you’re ready for some down time, head to the Theater to watch a performance of sing-along songs or plays (call or check Museum website or postings for schedules).

photo: April Hasson

End the Day with a Splash!

Last but not least — and we do recommend doing this last in case of any overzealous water splashes — is the Water Works exhibit. Here, nautical novices can float boats down ramps, spray water through a cannon, or simply splash their hands in a safe space.

Details

Restrooms, and lockers (for a .25-.50 rental fee) are onsite, along with a first aid station. If your crew gets the munchies, now worries, the museum has a café and gift shop with lots of nibbles and beverages to get you through your day. With your curiosity and energy, the Portland Children’s Museum can be hours of entertainment!

The Portland Children’s Museum’s Gand Opening of The Market
Location: 4015 SW Canyon Rd.
Date: Sept. 10
Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, Free the first Friday of every month from 4–8 p.m.
Price: Under age 1: Free, Ages 1–64: $10.75, Over 65 & military: $9.75. Access Admission (for those receiving public income-related assistance): $1
Phone: 503-223-6500
Online: portlandcm.org

What’s your child’s favorite activity at the Portland Children’s Museum? Tell us in the comments section below!

—April Hasson