You’ve no doubt heard the sometime snarky adage think of "the children." The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge takes that command fairly seriously.
The Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge is a family-friendly educational resource that invites children to learn while immersing themselves in interactive, nontraditional exhibits. It’s a place where teachers, parents and children come together, where classroom teaching is enhanced, where imagination is encouraged, and where learning isn’t bound by textbooks and homework. It’s a place for wonder, fun, innovation and creativity.
The Children’s Museum’s beginnings stretch back to a one-room museum that opened in Oak Ridge in 1948. The museum was maintained for two decades by a collective of teachers known as the Association for Early Childhood Education. Then, in 1973, a new museum was conceived by the Girl Scouts. The museum opened initially in the vacant library of the former Jefferson Junior High School. Early the next year it moved to its current location in the former Highland View Elementary School. The facility has grown over the years from an initial 10,000 square feet to its current 54,000-square-foot size.
Art, history, science and cultural heritage collide in the museum, and over 20,000 objects are on hand, as well as archival holdings, audiovisual materials, books and magazines.
The exhibits are numerous. Visitors can tour an Amazon Rainforest, in which there are sound effects, murals, a forest canopy, wild animals and a waterfall. The Dollhouse is a two story house that children five feet and smaller can enter. In the World of Trains, there is a hands-on play room with a replica diesel engine. The International Hall invites youngsters to examine Japanese Kokeshi dolls or to clack around in wooden shoes. One of the museum’s newest exhibits, completed in November 2008, is At Home in Appalachia: A Day in the Life of Sarah and Jonah. This throwback to Appalachian culture explores arts, crafts, gardening, storytelling and dance through the eyes of two fictional children.
The museum recently received funding for an Environmental Learning Center and Garden. An outdoor exhibit, the center will include birdhouses, a rock garden, a meadow, an outdoor classroom and areas for environmental projects.
Numerous classes, workshops and special events take place at the museum, many of them seasonal. These vary in price and by age group. During any given month, children and adults might find themselves making pottery, learning to scrapbook, creating recycled art, making a bracelet for Valentine’s Day, or learning West African songs and dances.
Visitors will find the Children’s Museum at 461 West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge, approximately 25 miles northwest of Knoxville. It can be reached from Knoxville by taking Pellissippi Parkway until it turns into Highway 62.
The museum is open year around on Tuesday through Sunday. During the week, the doors open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. On Saturdays the museum is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays it is open from 1-4 p.m. During June, July and August, the museum is also open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children three and older. Children under three and members are admitted for free. Special rates are available for school groups. Visit www.childrensmuseumofoakridge.org or call 865-482-1074 for more information.
|Concessions||Gift Shop||Live Music||Rides||Cost||Age|
|Sunday||1 p.m.||4 p.m.|
|Tuesday||9 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Wednesday||9 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Thursday||9 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Friday||9 a.m.||5 p.m.|
|Saturday||10 a.m.||4 p.m.|
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