We finally made it to the Children’s Museum in Portsmouth this summer. It was an enjoyable time except for one problem, getting my children to leave after being there four hours. The only reason we did leave was because I did not want to get stuck in weekday traffic heading back to our home in Newport News.
The museum was remodeled about a year ago. We went then. We went this time to see the Curious George temporary exhibit. While Charlotte, 10, was a bit old for it, she still was able to have a good time. I encouraged her to take advantage of learning Spanish because every explanation and the directions to the interactive exhibits were in English and in Spanish. The exhibit end Sept. 23 so there is still time to see it.
The exhibit is like walking into a Curious George book with the Apartment Building that looks like the one George and the man with the yellow hat reside. Children can operate wheels to move Curious George on pulleys from window to window.
They can climb the fire escape and climb inside to play with color, light and shadow. Julia, my eight-year-old daughter enjoyed the sidewalk produce stand. She enjoyed playing customer and salesperson with a new friend. It allows younger children to explore shapes, sorting, weighing and counting with fruit and vegetables.
There is a construction site which allows children to climb into the construction trailer and design a building, then make use of a bounty of building materials and get to work constructing different structures while using machines to move materials. Julia who enjoys mechanical things liked this.
Both of my daughters enjoyed the mini golf. It uses pipes, ramps, funnels, turntables, bumpers and force to experiment with physics and engineering as you putt through three holes of mini golf. They would have played it for a long time, but there were other children waiting their turn.
The space rocket gives a glimpse of George in his space suit. You can take a picture from the control station and e-mail it home. Another aspect both Charlotte and Julia enjoyed was the farm because we had to figure a way to use wind power to move the various piece of yard art that includes whirligigs, windmills and wind chimes. This was harder than we thought and showed us that even the slightest shift in wind can make a difference.
There is also a city park which offers a busy wall with activities for babies and toddlers.
Curious George did not do much for me until I learned the story of the authors a few years ago when a different temporary exhibit was at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk. The Children’s Museum exhibit also shows this. The authors, H.A. and Margret Rey, escaped France when the Nazis were entering during World War II. What got them through were the early drawings. While going through checkpoints, guards went through their items. The drawings of the cute monkey lighten the guards’ mood and they let the Reys pass. That in itself is enough to see this exhibit.
The Children’s Museum of Virginia is open September through May, Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday - Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. Admission is Adults (18&up): $11.00. Ages 2 -: $10. Military and Seniors: $10; Children under two free. It is located at 221 High Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704. (757) 393-5258. Visit us online at www.childrensmuseumva.com