Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Field Trip: Children's Museum of Oak Ridge

July 4, 2007

Yesterday we visited The Children's Museum of Oak Ridge. One of the great things about this museum is that they have a Traveling Trunk program. For just a $25 refundable deposit, you can borrow a trunk that contains various items pertaining to a certain topic, including Men, Women, and Children of Appalachia; Insects; Africa; Rainforest; Early Oak Ridge; and several more. (To check out a trunk, contact the Museum’s Education Director, Joyce Gralak (865) 482-1074 Ex. 106.) We had borrowed the Native American trunk for American Heritage Girls camp, and I needed to return that to the museum. It's been a couple of years since we last visited the museum, so Duncan and Laurel were excited for a chance to go.

From the outside, the museum doesn't look like much. The building is plain and in off-the-beaten-path location in Oak Ridge. But the inside of the museum contains room after room of hands-on activities (and a few hands-off displays).

Besides the castle, this room contains a rocketship play area and a few other things. Duncan and Laurel had a great game of Rapunzel here. I should mention, too, that there are no other people in these pictures because there were only 2-3 other families in the whole museum. I had a similar experience the other two times we were there, which leads me to conclude the this museum is not well known. But we love having museums all to ourselves!

This little room is called "Grandma's Attic." It's filled with dress-up clothes and other items that my mother would say in wonder, "THIS is an antique?"

I am fascinated with the strange history of Oak Ridge, the Secret City, so I loved this room full of Ed Westcott photographs that portray life in Oak Ridge during the 1940s and 50s.

Duncan and Laurel are much more interested, however, in the WaterWorks room, which demonstrates the lock system on the Tennessee River. This is Duncan's favorite room.

Not surprisingly, Laurel's favorite room contains a 2-story dollhouse that is just the right size for kids. Since hardly anyone else was in the whole museum, the kids had the dollhouse all to themselves for quite a long time.

Other exhibits include the rainforest room, a model train exhibit and train play area, a bird room, nature hallway, and several displays of life in our area in various time periods and Native American Life. While the museum is certainly not on the scale of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, it is a great place to explore for a few hours for kids up to age 12. Cost is $6/adults and $4/kids 3 and up, or you can go in a group of 10 or more for just $3/each.

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