Monday, October 18, 2010

A Long-Awaited Trip to the Children's Museum.

c. David grim (taken 10/10/10)

For years I have been curious about the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, but for the longest time I've just had no good reason to go. After all, parents are likely to frown at a guy in his thirties poking around the place without any kids in tow. My nephews don't live anywhere close to town, and I didn't have many friends with children. It didn't matter that I was genuinely interested in what they might include in this type of destination, and that I've known artists who have worked on installations for the Museum. I just wasn't willing to creep anyone out by going by myself. Given my experience this past weekend, I suspect that was all a wise decision.

Every year the Allegheny Regional Asset District sponsors free admission to all sorts of tourist attractions around the 'Burgh, and this past month I took advantage of several of the offers. But it was the Children's Museum I was looking forward to the most, as my son has just about reached the age when he can enjoy something like that (or at least that's what I suspected). We got down to the North Side before it even opened and grabbed a parking space unnecessarily far away. When we got near the entrance we took our place at the end of a long snaking line that went along the side of the building. Fortunately, since no one had to stop to pay admission, we moved through fairly fast.

Once inside we entered a Mr. Roger's Neighborhood set that seemed pretty bland to me. But E. seemed to like the interactive displays there- especially the player piano which he proceeded to monopolize in some crazy-looking charade of early Stevie Wonder. He then got up and sprinted into the next area with me following behind, jostling other little tykes and their hapless parents out of the way. In the next room he threw little stones down a covered, rounded chute with nails on its inner surface, and the resulting sounds approximated a tinkly jingle. And then I helped him spin a large cantilevered disc with sand along its periphery. The action propelled the sand in fascinatingly trippy patterns.

From space to space I tried to keep up with his frenzied movements and distracted attentions. He loved the opportunities to tinker with constructions, even though he didn't understand enough to really build anything substantial. He also liked watching the Rube Goldberg-like contraptions that sent large plastic balls along wires at ceiling level. But what he seemed the most excited by was a large metal spiral slide that I discovered (to my chagrin) that he couldn't descend without me accompanying him. It was a bit uncomfortable and I resisted his efforts to convince me to do it again.

Less enchanting was the story-teller in the downstairs theater. At first I thought the guy was a hit because E. was laughing boisterously, but then with continued repetitions I realized E.'s reactions were a mocking mimicry of mirth. It was at that point he decided he was ready to leave and check out his favorite familiar playground. I brought him outside for a bit to check out the large sandbox and the rather enigmatic sculptural effects on the side of the building. Then we exited through an external gate and called it a day. In the end I got lots of photos and about an hour-and-a-half of intense diversion. I'd call that a success. I'm sure we'll be back in a year or so.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like fun for the most part, a place to return over the years.