The first thing that struck me as awesome about Cincinnati’s Museum Center is the structure in which it’s housed. Union Terminal is considered to be one of the city’s most prized architectural treasures. Its’ history dates back to 1933. So many stories, so many lives passed through this old train terminal from businessmen to World War II heroes – it would be a shame to see anything negative befall the structure. However, like many old buildings in this city requiring public funding for their upkeep, there’s always that risk.
In the meantime, the Cincinnati Museum Center houses three separate museums – the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and the Children’s Museum, as well as an OmniMax theater. TIP: If you’d like to get through them all, give yourself 6 hours. Also, pay the extra $4 to upgrade to an All-museum pass instead of purchasing tickets a la carte. This way you can go into any and all of the museums.
SPECIAL EXHIBITS AT THE MUSEUM CENTER
The museum rotates special exhibits, usually based on something scientific or historic. Past exhibits have included rarities such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the actual 10 commandments! While I was in town, the Diana, A Celebration exhibit was on display for its final few weeks of a decade+ world tour. Cincinnati’s reference as the Queen City made it befitting that the tour ended there before her belongings, crown, jewels, wedding dress, and family affects were returned to her sons.
I’d have to say being able to tour the Diana exhibit was one of my favorite random experiences while visiting Cincinnati. Meeting Solomon Northup’s fifth generation descendant was another.
THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
When you’re not in one of the museum’s special exhibits, drop the kids off at the Children’s museum if they’re under 10. This space is designed especially for them. The History Museum is more appealing to adults and kids who love world history.
The museum makes a great rainy day activity in addition to any day of the week. Be prepared. You will do a lot of walking. However, there are plenty of opportunities to take constructive breaks. You can sit while your child engages in learning-thru-play at the Children’s museum. It’s 1 floor of science, physics, and chemistry, all strategically designed as play. Don’t feel bad if your sitting – staff members float around the area to talk about its’ exhibits and set up the context for kids.
INTRODUCING KIDS TO THE WOODS
The most popular area in the building for kids is “The Woods”, catering to kids 8 and over. Designed to simulate an into the woods experience, specifically for city kids who may have never gone camping, the Woods houses a tank with live turtles and fish native to the area. Kids love crawling into the tunnel underneath the tank where they can look at the marine life that then surrounds them.
Younger kids are welcome to The Woods, however they must be accompanied by a grown-up. The Little Sprouts Farm is a learning and play area designed for kids 4 and under. Children 3-7 also enjoy the Water Works play area as well as Kids Town, the make-believe space where they will find a pet hospital and a Kroger grocery store.
TIPS FOR FAMILIES VISITING THE MUSEUM CENTER
Here are seven TIPS to consider when planning your visit to the Cincinnati Museum:
- Museum center parking is $6, after 4:30 it costs $4.
- Catch the golf cart that makes its rounds through the parking lot, offering drop-off to the front door.
- You can rent strollers and wheelchairs for $5 if you choose to leave your own at home.
- During the wintertime there’s no coat check, however you can rent lockers for $.50.
- The UDF (a Cincinnati brand) ice cream shop is a must-do for kids and serves as good bait to get kids to leave the Center.
- There’s on-site food service or visitors can bring their own food and dine inside the concourse sitting area.
- If you’re attending one of the special exhibits, be sure to purchase tickets online.
For more information about the Cincinnati Museum Center, visit CincyMuseum.org.