Last September, we made our last visit to the Austin Children's Museum as we knew it, and prepared for the grand re-opening as The Thinkery in its new location in December. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't a big fan of the previous museum. It was poorly lit (sounds like a silly thing to complain about, but when you're frequently trying to supervise five children - give or take - it's important!), parking was a pain in the butt downtown, it was undersized and, as a result, massively overstimulating, and just generally redundant. If you'd been once, you'd been a million times. So while I was excited to see what they would come up with next, I wasn't chomping at the bit to add it back into the rotation of places to go with kiddos in Austin. That's why I'm so happy to announce that I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the Thinkery. I mean, really-and-truly-enjoy, look-forward-to-going type enjoy - so much so that we're members for the first time ever!
The Thinkery reopened in a space significantly larger than their previous digs, complete with an outdoor playscape that I swear calls to Ava when we haven't been in more than a couple of weeks. If I wasn't routinely wearing a wee baby while there, I'd be tempted to climb on that playscape as well!
While some popular exhibits are back (Mi Familia comes to mind), many of the old favorites have been revamped, such as the go-to kitchen area expanding to a much larger "farmer's market" - a staple for our visits!
There is also the story nook, which is also larger (I'm sensing a theme of enjoying how much larger and roomier everything is!), and a toddler-only area that is really cool! Nestled into the upstairs space there is also the gym-inspired move studio, that allows children access to all sorts of mats and other gymnastics type equipment, hula hoops, slides, and more - perfect for a rainy day, which we've had many of lately!
There is also a water room upstairs, where kids can get soaked (and do, despite the smocks…) experimenting with chutes and other materials in water. To round out the upstairs, there are some really nice nursing lounges (though don't worry - you can nurse wherever you want per state law and my own experience. They're just there for your own comfort if wanted) and a kitchen lab that - if you can get there early and get a spot at - is a great place for kids to do some hands on science!
As for downstairs, one of the big highlights is what we like to call the "light bright room", where you can experiment and create with light bright pegs on darkened walls and tables, as well as create shapes with your body on an overhead projector on the wall.
There is also the famed engineering area, where you can build just about anything out of anything, and a glass wall to paint - my personal favorite!
Have you been to the Thinkery yet? What are some of your favorite areas?