Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Day at the Museum

This is my vacation week, and like last year's vacation week, it is consisting mostly of staying at home. My babysitter takes a week every summer, which she more than deserves and trying to find a spot for both girls to hang for a week is easier said than done, so I just take it off and hang with them.

Which sucks, because I'd rather be on a cruise ship to Alaska or exploring the Magic Kingdom. But rocks, because I hardly ever get to just hang with my girls. And because we tend to do stuff we don't get to do often. My go-to is the Cincinnati Zoo (which is super awesome) and the Newport Aquarium, but we've been there, done that.

This year, we tried something new. I've been wanting to take Brynna to the art museum ever since we had a long conversation about Degas and ballerinas, so I started looking into the Cincinnati museum scene. We ended up not being within three miles of an art museum, but we rocked the museum scene just the same.

We visited the Cincinnati Museum Center, which I didn't even know existed. If you've ever driven through Cincinnati and thought, "Look, the Hall of Justice. I didn't know The Justice League took place in Cincy," then you've seen it. Actually, the Hall of Justice was modeled after Union Station, so you're not crazy.

I've seen it a bunch of times and wanted to go in (because I'm sort of obsessed with Art Deco architecture) but I had no idea what was there. Turns out, it used to be Union Station, Cincy's primary train station. Now, it houses the Natural History Museum, the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati Children's Museum, an IMAX theater and an actual Amtrak station. (Although, ironically, not the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati, which isn't even in Cincinnati.)

We pretty much had a blast. We started in the Natural History Museum, because Brynna was totally sucked in by the mastodon skeleton right inside the front door. There, we watched a presentation on bats, explored the largest man-made cave in the US, learned all about Darwin, and saw dinosaurs. It was a blast. There's actually a great deal more to the museum, but we hadn't budgeted enough time (not counting on Brynna wanting to go through the cave five times. I'm not kidding. Literally, five times) and we had IMAX tickets for 1:00.

We had a quick lunch in the wide open lobby area. While the kids focused on pizza slices bigger than their heads, I took some time to take in all the decor. From the HUGE tile mural to the gorgeous domed ceiling, from the perfect art deco lettering to the intricate coverings on the old ticket windows, it was like art deco heaven.

After lunch we headed to the IMAX to be amazed by "Under the Sea." I planned this part for right after lunch because I figured Maren might sleep. Of course, if she didn't sleep, she'd scream like a banshee and try to climb my head. Luckily, she opted for sleeping.

We finished up the day in the Children's Museum. Which was awesome. Filled to brimming with interactive, hands-on activities, many focused around building, the kids were both more than happy to run rampant and were more than a little hard to keep up with.

I'm still a little sad that Brynna and I didn't get to an art museum. But, really, I can't imagine a better day. Everyone was happy more or less all day. And we discovered a brand new treasure. Well, brand new to us.

Also, I finally know what's inside the Hall of Justice.

*I should note that this post was not sponsored by the Cincinnati Museum Center. The Cincinnati Museum Center has never heard of me and gave me nothing for free except for some turtle temporary tatoos. I assume that they give them to all the kids who walk in the front door and this should not be construed as a bribe or sponsorship. If it was a bribe, it would be a really pathetic one and I would have ripped them apart just for insulting me.


Tessa said...

Sounds like good times. I don't know if my kids would appreciate all that you saw though. They need to be entertained a bit. A laid back informative journey through the past is not what I imagine they would enjoy, but I am constantly proven wrong. So, from one mom on a budget to another, how much did the day cost ya? I assume the Imax tickets were extra? We are always looking for something somewhat inexpensive to do and if it's educational then that's a plus.

Cindy S. said...

We LOVE the Cincinnati Museum Center :) Ian loves it. We've done the Natural History Museum, Children's Museum and the IMAX. I took him a few months ago and we also saw Under the Sea and he still talks about it. Such a fun place!

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

We moved five years ago last month. Jamie is 12 now. He STILL remembers and longs for a return to the Cincinnati Children's Museum! Do they still have the area where kids can use all sorts of stuff to launch those big plastic ball pit balls across the room? That was his favorite. We're hoping to be in Georgetown around Christmas time (it depends on finding someone to come care for our dogs). Maybe we can work in a trip to the Children's museum (I hope so!)

Orlandel said...

The Headly-Whitney museum in Lexington has Wednesday programs for kids (tie-dye is coming up June 23 from 1-3) as well as a lot of natural artifacts, decorative art (my favorite kind), and jewels. And, of course the doll house!. the Speed Museum in Louisville is free (suggested donation is $4) and they have an Andy Warhol exhibition thru September. They have some Monet and Cezanne galleries.

Jessi said...

Tess - It wasn't what I'd call cheap family fun (about $70 for five of us). The IMAX was probably about half of that, so you could get by for cheaper without it. Plus, the food there was reasonable, unlike the zoo, which costs less to get into but ends up costing us millions. Well, not really, but it feels like millions.

Cindy - Next time, we're going to go earlier and try to get in the Cincinnati History Museum, there's apparently a keelboat...

Jenn - That is such a cool kid you have. Let me know when you're going to be in and we'll hang.

Mom - I'm planning on taking Brynna to the Speed, just the two of us sometime soon. I'd like to kinda make a day out of it. It's close to that giant fabric store, but I don't think she'd be particuarly amused.

Suze said...

That's awesome. I love a good children's museum. Ours is closed now because they are tripling in size and opening in a new location downtown (which reminds me we need to renew our membership before prices go up in July).
Kids will surprise you with the educational stuff they're interested in. Today in Daniel's preschool the kids were quite taken with a bouquet of milkweed the director had brought in with 4 monarch caterpillars munching away!

Koby said...

Ohhh enjoy those "babies" Jessi, your "stacation" sounded awesome. And I agree The Cincinnati Museum Center had better give you more than a turtle tattoo for that nice review. :-)