Westchester Children’s Museum
Westchester Children’s Museum: The Westchester Children’s Museum (WCM) that opened the first 6,500 square feet of its phased construction in March 2016 was recently awarded $824,000 from the New York State Council for the Arts/Empire State Development Arts & Cultural Facilities Improvement Program.
The grant, coupled with matching funds from private individuals, businesses and foundations will finance the build out of the remaining 16,000 square feet of the historic landmark North Bathhouse on the Boardwalk at Playland Park in Rye that the museum occupies. Construction is expected to begin on designs they have to add a museum store and more exhibit space including two large exhibits featuring a “significant” climbing structure and water play exhibits for this world-class fully interactive museum and discovery center for kids. When complete, WCM will be larger that the Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk.
WCM has already hosted over 60,000 visitors to it’s hands-on exhibits. With an average visit time of two and a half hours, WCM is a What To Do top pick, for families with kids from 0-13 looking for activities to break up a winter (spring, summer or fall) weekend.
The Museum offers experiences in physics, science, art, technology and design, with places to climb, build, and explore. It is a place where the child leads the process of discovery. Central to the museum concept is their MakerSpace exhibits, a kind of learning laboratory, that offers unstructured time and materials for kids to work on their own creative STEM and arts and crafts projects. Here there’s a science tinker table where the museum rotates materials for themes such as sound, magnetism, circuitry and shape.
WCM also offers a weekly calendar of structured activities and recurring programs including: Exploring Play: a monthly themed story, song and games session; Young Discoverers: a weekly science-based “drop-in” program offering simple experiments and craft projects for kids 2-5, art workshops, a Makers & Shakers Afterschool Engineering Club for grades 3-5 and a Museum After Dark program that extends museum hours to 8pm on the first Friday of each month.
One of the most fun-looking exhibits at the museum is the Con Edison-sponsored Build Your Own Rollercoaster room where kids explore the dynamics of motion, force and speed while constructing their own roller coaster.
Another popular exhibit is the Wind Tunnel Design Challenge where kids use odd materials to create a hover craft and then see how well it flies around the museum’s wind tunnel.
Older kids can explore their architectural vision in the KEVA Planks Construction Gallery where thousands of small uniform planks offer endless creative possibilities. The Rigamajig Big Construction exhibit offers a large-scale building kit with wood planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope for playful STE(A)M learning.
Finally, there’s a Toddler Beach, a colorful play area overlooking the Sound, for pre-walkers and early toddlers to work on their motor skills and a Book Nook. The Book Nook is a place to hang with a good picture book and also offers Storytime and other literacy-based programming, including a new Rhyme and Reason program for toddlers to learn to read through nursery rhymes.
The museum also has a party room where you can create your own environment for birthday parties for up to 20 children. Museum exhibits are also available for your exclusive use during your party. Museum staff will even help you unload and load your car.
The museum is open Wed-Sun and most days when school is out except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day from 10am-4pm. It holds extended hour on the first Friday of each month from 10am-8pm. The entrance is on the Boardwalk at 100 Playland Park, Rye; www.discoverwcm.org)