One of the things my daughter loves most about a new city is checking out a new-to-us hands-on museum or science center. A weekend trip to Jacksonville provided a wealth of hands-on opportunities for us. Here are three great places in Jacksonville to let kids experience culture at their level:
Museum of Science and History
Families can learn a lot here about native Florida plants and animals, as well as about the history of Jacksonville. (Did you know that Jacksonville’s entire downtown burned in 1901, 30 years after the Great Chicago Fire?) There’s an area for traveling exhibits, where we had fun answering questions about the oceans to find our way out of a maze at the current exhibit. A “Chronicles of Narnia” science exhibit is coming for the summer. But the coolest thing at MOSH, according to Theme Park Kid, was the science theater. The show there had it all – lightning (from a static electricity generator), thunder (from a liquid hydrogen experiment) and fire (from the explosion of a hydrogen balloon). The kids in the audience were totally enthralled with the whole presentation, and so were the adults.
Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History is open seven days a week, except the major holidays. Admission is $10 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3 to 12.
Everything about this facility, from the grounds on the banks of the St. Johns River to the building to the art inside, is breathtakingly beautiful. We were awed by the ancient Cummer Oak, which has grown there for centuries. We could have spent hours in the Art Connections section of the museum upstairs, where there are several hands-on activities for kids. There are computer stations that allow you to mix paint colors in different proportions, paint on a giant screen and create a self portrait. An interactive display takes you through 30,000 years of art history, and there are hands-on rubbing, coloring and magnetic play stations. A traveling exhibit, Jazz ABZ, is on display in one of the galleries through August. It is based on a children’s book written by musician Wynton Marsalis.
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens is open every day except Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $10, and children 5 and under are free. And if you visit Jacksonville during the week, admission is free for everyone on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville
The Theme Park Kid appreciates clean design and loved the modern aesthetic of MOCA Jacksonville. It was her first time in a museum that housed only contemporary pieces, and she enjoyed looking at the abstract paintings and the collection of Picasso portraits. Then we hit the Art Explorium Loft at the museum, and she was in heaven. There were dozens of hands-on activities here including assembling sculptures, designing with textures and drawing portraits to put in special frames that distorted them a la Picasso.
MOCA Jacksonville is open every day except Mondays and major holidays. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children and students. On Sundays, MOCA is free for families.
Disclosure Notice: My trip was provided by Visit Jacksonville.