A couple years ago, our kids toured the Moody Mansion, one of the historical homes on Galveston’s Broadway. Everyone at the museum was talking about the children’s museum they were building in the basement. At the time, I felt a little worried for the employees because it just seemed like it wouldn’t work. I imagined a poor recreation of the big-city versions (i.e. a bin of used toys, some play kitchens, and a “science” area with some magnifying glasses and shells).
This past weekend, we were visiting the island (playing tourist with friends from California) and the kids wanted to visit the Children’s Museum. I read the reviews, looking for critiques from tourists who had come for a larger-than-life experience and had left disappointed. But that’s not what I found. Instead, everyone loved the museum. It seems that Galveston had figured out a way to house some of the magic of the island in this new space for kids…
Here’s what we discovered on our visit….
1. Finally, a children’s museum that’s family-sized.
We have done the ginormous Children’s Museums in big cities. These are the places with entire McDonalds inside, water play the size of Olympic swimming pools, and enough parking for every bus from the surrounding school districts. Except these places feel too big for a family outing. Taking our kids to the Houston Children’s Museum is like visiting the Grand Canyon, when you were looking for a mile-long stroll. All of it–the pain of parking, the trekking all over, the activities designed for a (literal) busload of kids feels like way too much.
But the Galveston Children’s Museum feels right-sized for a family to visit. They specialize in more precise, more intentional activities. Kids can learn needlepoint in the craft room, hammer creations in the workshop, and build giant marble runs with PVC pipe. All of these rooms have helpers there to make sure kids have the supplies they need to create masterpieces that match their imaginations.
2. It has the You-Can-Kill-Hours-Here vibe.
This is my daily wish, and the wish of all parents. I want my kids to find that sweet spot of imaginative play.The one where they can spend hours in the zone of creating, thinking, and problem-solving. At Galveston’s Children’s Museum, there’s a stage with lights and costumes and a microphone (kids love a microphone). There are giant Lego tables and plenty of space to read and build and make.
Our kids, who were tired out from the sand and sun of Galveston’s main attraction, soaked up the play-discover-learn vibe of the Children’s Museum.
3. The location is so cool.
The Moody Mansion is one of the most famous buildings on our little island. The Moody family raised their four kids in this Broadway Beauty (which looks like a cool, medieval castle). Back then, servants lived in the basement. And now, the imaginative crew of the Galveston Children’s Museum has created nooks and crannies where kids can snuggle up to read a book, or pretend they’re a vet helping the island’s pets, or watch the Museum staff feed the resident bearded dragon, Spike.
Let me tell you, as a kid who grew up in Galveston, running along the stone floors of the this icon is unbelievably cool (also literally cool since it’s designed to keep out the Texas heat and humidity).