January 7, 2005
Digging in a sand pit while searching for dinosaur eggs or creating a sun catcher don’t sound like activities kids can do at a museum.
But they are, and this Sunday, kids and their families can do them free.
During the second Sunday of each month, admission to Mesa Southwest Museum and Arizona Museum for Youth is free, giving families a chance to experience the wonders inside. That means kids can explore and learn in a fun, exciting environment and it won’t cost mom or dad a dime.
"Second Sundays allows people to come in and enjoy the whole museum," says Tom Wilson, director of Mesa Southwest Museum, which offers free admission from 1 to 5 p.m. "We’re getting a lot of new people into the museum. For people with big families, it can be kind of expensive to come in. This offers them an opportunity to come in when they may not otherwise."
Both museums offer numerous activities for kids and adults, and because many are interactive, families can play together. "Hatching the Past: Dinosaur Eggs, Nests and Young" is a hands-on, interactive exhibit for kids running through Feb. 13, featuring cultural and natural history exhibits for children and adults. One of the most popular activities for families on display, the exhibit includes a variety of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests from all over the world to see and touch.
"The entire museum is predicated on the idea that you learn by doing," says Barbara Meyerson, executive director pf Arizona Museum for Youth. "What we want to have happen and what does happen here, is adults and children interact in the space. There is intergenerational learning and lifelong learning."
The gallery’s current main exhibit, "Show of Colors," running through mid-February, allows kids to look at artwork made by glass artists and painters, and make similar creations alongside the displays. In ArtVille, another section of the museum, there are activities for kids of all ages, even those too young to walk, Meyerson says.
"Everyone has a different learning style," Meyerson says. "We try to address as many as possible."
In ArtVille, adults and young kids can get on the floor, constructed of giant crayons and art supplies, and play with colored toys. This allows kids and adults to make memories together, Meyerson says.
"No matter what day of the week it is, you can be having a difficult day and go into the gallery and watch the families interact and say, ‘Wow, this is what it’s all about,’ " she says. "It’s a wonderful experience."
If you go
Arizona Museum for Youth: 35 N. Robson, Mesa. (480) 644-2468.
www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission: $3.50 for kids 1 and older. Free on the second Sunday of each month.
Mesa Southwest Museum: 53 N. Macdonald. (480) 644-2230.
www.mesasouthwestmuseum.com. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $3 to $6. Free on the second Sunday of each month.