Do you routinely unearth a variety of treasures (absolutely not trash!) from your little one’s coat pockets or find odd and ends stuffed in his car seat? Then load your curious collector in the car and head directly to the Washington State History Museum’s latest and greatest exhibit based on the children’s story—Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and the Fabulous-Miraculous Time Intrusionator. Your little packrat will love the colorful and cool caboodle of exhibits celebrating all that is awesome about history, creativity and the power of imagination.
The Tale Behind the Teapot
“Ssset a spell, and I will tell you a story.” So begins the fantastical adventure of 4th grader Ernest Oglby Punkweiler, a curious, lonely boy with boundless imagination, who sometimes feels like he just doesn’t fit in. His mom has gotten so frustrated with his frequent disappearances that she refuses to take him to the zoo or the aquarium, and even the art museum had him banned. (Sound familiar, exasperated mama?) But his isolation doesn’t hold him back, so when he comes across an old gas station shaped like a teapot (a nod to Tacoma’s much loved and world-famous Bob’s Java Jive, perhaps?) and notes the old man hanging a sign that says “Curiosities Unbound” from the tooth of a blue-green dragon, well, what do you think he does next?
He walks inside, of course! And you and your curious kiddo can too as you step through the doorway and enter the exhibit. Within the walls of the eclectic teapot, you, like Ernest, will find curiosities aplenty, from a cabinet of odd creatures to a collection of old cameras (a clue as to how Ernest starts his travels) to an umbrella-tailed serpent who talks. As you amble through the eccentricities, your mini me can listen to the story unfold over the speakers as you read the descriptions to give you clues to how Ernest eventually becomes the next “Keeper of Time.”
The Adventure Continues
This kid-tastic exhibit continues in the next room, featuring excerpts from Ernest’s eventual travels through time and space as The Keeper. These interactive and photo-op worthy art displays feature a variety of local and national locations for Ernest’s 70 years of “intrusionated” visits, from a 1939 encounter with a sea serpent floating in Puget Sound (Hiyitl’iik of the Mahousat people of the Northwest Coast) to a 1961 stop at a garbage dump in Ozette, Washington (fighting against planned obsolescence), all places where young Ernest intrusionates to gather tokens of his travels for future generations.
Each display is by a different, talented artist, and your kiddo can explore to his heart’s content, from saying cheese as a member of a merry band of refrigerated aliens (illustrator Mike Cressy’s Space Buddies) to a cozy corner chair where he can settle in with a copy of the Time Intrusionator. Adults and kids alike will love becoming Keepers of Time right alongside the book’s inquisitive hero.
Be on the Lookout
Ernest Oglby Punkweiler and the Fabulous-Miraculous Time Intrusionator is a fantastical adventure that blends history and fantasy in a way that leaves you wishing for more. Be sure to keep an eye on the calendar for more Intrusionator-related events, including gallery talks on June 6 and August 1, 2014 and check out the Answers from the Keeper blog. You don’t want to miss out on this fun chance to make history buffs out of every member of your menagerie.
Keep on Learning
Good news, history addicts! The Museum also hosts several more kid-friendly exhibits, from an awesome model train for your littlest engineer to the History Lab, where little monkeys and their mamas can learn about the “olden days” of Washington State. Go on a museum treasure hunt, ride a real oxen cart or click on videos of the Mt. St. Helens eruption and the Kingdome demolition as you fill your head with fun facts about the 42nd state.
Discounts and Deals
Check out all Tacoma has to offer by purchasing a Tacoma Museum Pass which gets you into the WSHM, Museum of Glass, and Tacoma Art Museum for just $25 ($20 for students). Make a day of it!
Historic Happy Hour
Hungry after all that history? Walk next door to Anthem, where you can grab kid-friendly food like hand-crafted pizza and bagels while you sip a white mocha or a glass of vino during their all-day-Sunday and weekdays 3 p.m.-6 p.m. happy hours. Order to go and take in the views of the Chihuly Museum of Glass or historic Union Station while you nosh. (You can thank us for the tip later—we like our mochas iced.)
Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Ave.
Tacoma, Wa 98402
Prices: $9.50/adult; $7/student (6-17); free for kids 5 and under
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. On the Third Thursday of each month, the History Museum is open until 8 p.m. with FREE admission from 2 p.m.-8 p.m.Do you think you will check out the Time Intrusionator exhibit? If you have already visited, what was your favorite from Ernest’s collection? Let us know in a comment below! -Erin Cranston Photos courtesy of The Washington State History Museum and Erin Cranston