By Vince Guerrieri
Posted On: Jan 3, 2018
It took nearly two years, but the Children’s Museum of Cleveland is back – in a new, bigger location, and offering different but familiar activities for kids to play and learn.
The museum was formerly in the city’s University Circle neighborhood, hemmed in among the other museums in that area before losing its lease. It turned out be a blessing in disguise, as the museum found a new and bigger home on Euclid Avenue, offering far more parking than its previous location (it’s also easily accessible on the RTA Health Line).
The museum opened in November in the former Stager-Beckwith Mansion, one of the few remnants left of Euclid Avenue’s days as the city’s millionaire’s row. The home was a repurposed several times, but was in foreclosure when it was bought by museum benefactors for $50,000, and given a $10 million restoration for its new purpose.
Not coincidentally, the home resembles a giant dollhouse, and the entire top floor is devoted to dolls and miniatures. There’s a room full of dolls dressed up in native attire, and several dollhouses – including a model of the Stager-Beckwith Mansion. While many of the dollhouses are under glass, there is an interactive component allowing children to play with dolls and houses of their own. (One of the great aspects of the museum is that it really encourages socialization; my daughter and I went on a Saturday afternoon, and she played with lots of different kids.)
The first floor includes party rooms and art studios, allowing kids to paint, color and make other crafts. Happily, there are smocks for them to put on and a drying rack where you can leave your work and return for it at the end of your time there.
But the piece de resistance is in the museum’s basement. Its previous home was known for its water tables and climbing wall. There’s an entire room devoted to water tables on one side (there are three, and when we were there, kids were packed around them) and vacuum tubes on the other, which send scarves flying through them and into the air.
The larger room is devoted to Adventure City, a two-story play area including a store (an always popular part of the museum), toy cars and other scenarios where children can let their imaginations run wild. You can even build walls and vehicles of your own, thanks to interlocking planks (think lifesize Lincoln Logs). Be forewarned: In a structure that big, it’s really easy for the kids you’re with to escape your sight, so keep an eye on them.
While the museum is no longer in University Circle, it’s not far, allowing the opportunity to visit other museums there (or pop up to nearby Little Italy for a meal or dessert). And it’s also not far from Playhouse Square and downtown Cleveland, allowing the museum to serve as a jumping-off point for a day full of activities in Cleveland.
For more family fun, Find It Here at Ohio.org.