This museum really is an interesting and worthwhile experience for the family. We get in for free because we have reciprocal benefits through another children's museum, but I believe regular admission averages about $5 for adults and $3 or $4 for kids.
This museum has been around for a long time; at least 30 years or so in its current location in an old school building. Not much of the original structure has changed; so you will find exhibits down the hallways, and in each of the old classrooms is a particular exhibit.
The first section of exhibits revolve around the Appalachian lifestyle of past generations. There are a few sections of international culture, and then you run into birds and ocean life.
The hallway and next section are devoted mostly to the history of Oak Ridge, otherwise known as the "Secret City" because of their involvement with building the atomic bomb during the war. Even Dad or Grandpa will find it quite enlightening.
There is a waterworks section, a puppet room, and then arts and crafts classrooms mostly designated for special classes. Then one room is a huge, life-size doll house that most children absolutely ADORE. It is one of the reasons we go as often as we are able. As soon as we enter, the kids run straight to it and sometimes we see nothing else during our visit.
If you can get the kids past the doll house, there is a walk-through rainforest, and then a room with trains. My youngest daughter is a train fanatic, so we do usually try to do some train activities if we have enough time.
On your first few visits, you will likely be struck by just how LONG this museum feels... Hallway after hallway of classroom-turned-exhibits. But, that is what makes it so much fun.
One thing I hear most people comment on, is just how "hands-on" these exhibits are for the kids. I can't think of anything that they can't touch and feel and manipulate. This would include dress up clothes, old toys, preserved animal specimens and much more. It is a very comfortable atmosphere which is always nice to have a chance to relax in while the children enjoy themselves.
The museum is very hand made and it is NOT like the fancy technological museums you may find in the larger cities. I can see that some people may not be impressed with it. And I would also be tempted to think most kids that would enjoy it would probably be in the 8-years or younger category.
But, we love it. And if your kids enjoy engaging their imaginations, I think you will love it, too. It may not be as fancy as some, but it certainly is cheaper than most; so if you are in the area, be sure to check it out!
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