“Where are we going?” asked our grandchildren as they entered the Chesapeake Children’s Museum (25 Silopanna Rd., Annapolis) not knowing what to expect. but they looked around, the smiles on their faces reflected interest and curiosity. In every direction there were toys, building materials, and a variety of colorful displays.
This hands-on museum, a part of the Annapolis community since 1994 has been operating at its current location since 2002. The brightly painted walls provide the background for shelves filled with wooden blocks, books, games, animals in enclosures, and educational exhibits about rocks, animals, and geography. And there were lots of dress-up opportunities.
The kids set out to explore. Colton, age six, was proud of the car wash that he designed and constructed using blocks of all shapes. He demonstrated it using little cars. Then he grabbed a mini shopping cart and began gathering a variety of colorful playtime fruit and vegetables. To represent the Chesapeake Bay, there was a red, yellow, and white wooden tugboat, large enough for the kids to board. We inspected the habitat of a python, several turtles, and a bearded dragon. A staff member removed the python from its enclosed habitat. When a three-year-old girl reached out to touch it, we reluctantly did too. No one chose to touch the bearded dragon.
This museum provides discovery experiences for children as well as accompanying adults. We met 18 month old twins and their older brother who were safely having fun while toddling around as their mother tried to keep up with them.
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We explored a room fully stocked to simulate an office visit to the doctor or dentist. The kids dressed up in white lab coats. A mural that identifies the organs of the human body was painted on the wall with a full-sized skeleton hanging nearby. We took turns sitting in an authentic dental chair and pretending to use the instruments.
An adjacent room was perfect for creating performances. There was a stage with a curtain and a hanging wardrobe of costumes. Kenna, age eight, loved getting on stage and starring in her creative one-woman show about ‘being yourself.’
The lower level of the building contains seating and supplies for art and crafts projects. There was also a piano and we couldn’t resist trying to play a tune.
The museum is supported by the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County which receives funding from the Maryland State Arts Council and the City of Annapolis. Donations are always appreciated and there are volunteer opportunities. Admission is $5 per person (age 1 and up) and there are special membership rates. Come visit and create an adventure!
Sunday, January 20th - Animal Party - Meet live animals that live in or around the museum. Monday January 21st - The Skin You Live In - Hands-on activities about the simple but complex topic of skin color.
“The mission of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum is to create an environment of discovery about oneself, the peoples, the technologies, and the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay for all children and for the children in us all.”
Images courtesy of Lois and Paul Villemaire