by Stefanie Watson
Two local children’s museums – one in Cleveland and one in Akron – offer exciting opportunities for families to engage in fun and educational experiences as school children head into summer break.
The Cleveland Children’s Museum with its roughly 5,000 members has served the Greater Cleveland since 1981. Director of Marketing and Development Hattie Kotz said that in addition to the permanent exhibits and ongoing events, like Toddler Time, a bubbles exhibit opened in December 2022.
“This immersive exhibit invites our youngest learners to suit up in a raincoat – trust us, you’ll want to! – and discover the science of bubbles through hands-on exploration,” Kotz explained. “Children can stretch a bubble bigger than their body, catch bubbles filled with fog, set a flurry of bubbles in motion and even experience our custom bubble-blowing wall.”
CMC’s featured series this summer, Center Stage, aims to attract new visitors with free monthly professional arts performances.
“Music, movement, and storytelling are a huge part of early childhood, making children naturally drawn to the arts,” said Kotz. “We understand though that ticket prices and the need to sit still for a longer performance can make these experiences feel out of reach for some families.”
This program is designed to work for young families: no reservations, additional fees or the need to sit still! Some upcoming performances include North Pointe Ballet’s “The Wizard of Oz” on May 9, Italian folk musical group the Alla Boara Trio on May 21, and a cultural performance by ShoJoJi Japanese dance on June 11. CMC will announce additional summer performances in June in their newsletter and at cmcleveland.org.
Heading south, the Akron Children’s Museum began as a pop-up in early 2016, with the support of local parents who identified a need in the community for a space dedicated to early childhood learning and interacting through play. Today, its permanent home is located in Lock 3 Park, and Museum Director Traci Buckner announced the museum’s expansion this April.
“The new space is designed with older children in mind, 8-11 years,” said Buckner. “We will offer a variety of new exhibits, including a rocket exhibit designed by [University of Akron] Akronauts, a sensory room, sound studio, new maker space, and two private rooms for STEAM workshops, school field trips, parties and company meetings.”
In addition to the new space, ACM offers existing exhibits that are always a hit with younger children like Excavation Station for sensory play, giant building blocks, a children’s theater and Derbytown – a car-making center where kids can test their designs with a downhill car track. Typically, ACM offers a variety of field trips and day camp opportunities during the summer and operating hours can vary, so be sure to check out akronkids.org before heading down to enjoy the play space. ∞