Museum Menagerie

 Museum Menagerie

The Cincinnati Museum Center has a diverse selection of entertainment for visitors of all ages

It can be hard to decide on a museum. Do you select the children’s museum because it will keep the kids entertained or the history museum for a family-learning experience?

The Cincinnati Museum Center takes this difficult decision out of its guests’ hands, and it's only about an hour away. “At one location, we have the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Science, an OMINMAX theater – which is the five-storied domed theater – and we have blockbuster exhibitions and the historical library and archives,” says Casey Kroger, marketing communications manager for the Museum Center. At this multi-museum complex, you just have to decide what to do first.

For families with younger children, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum is a great place to start. “We suggest that people can start bringing their kids in as early as six months,” says Kroger. The museum hosts an area called “Little Sprouts Farm” that has a soft ground and toys, and the area is gated off to ensure that the bigger kids don’t come in. “There is a staff person who sits at that gate [who] makes sure that the bigger kids can’t get in and roughhouse. It’s specifically for those little guys,” adds Kroger.

The Children’s Museum also has activities for kids up to age 9 such as the “Energy Zone,” which contains a huge ball pit; “Waterworks,” which is all about the science of water; and “The Woods,” a giant indoor tree house that adults can also explore. “It is the perfect place to kind of use all that never-ending energy that kids have,” says Kroger.

The Natural History and Science Museum is designed for older children but is still full of hands-on learning activities. The museum also has exhibits on dinosaurs, the ice age and Neil Armstrong, but one of its most popular areas is “The Cave.” A recreated limestone cave, the exhibit has a waterfall and a bat chamber built into it.

“It’s wet, it’s cold, it’s dark, it’s got noises in it, [and] there are tight spots that you have to squeeze through,” says Kroger. “It’s really like an actual cave.”

The Cincinnati History Museum also the kids, and adults, entertained. The most popular exhibits are “Cincinnati in Motion,” a model layout of Cincinnati from the 1900s through the 40s and the largest S Scale train layout in the country, and “Cincinnati Public Landing,” a recreated version of the Cincinnati riverfront in the 1860s with cobblestone streets and a replica of a 94-foot side-wheel steamboat.

You can also check out large blockbuster exhibits at the Center. The current one is “Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana.” Accompanied by the OMNIMAX film, Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia, which will be at the Museum Center through the fall. The exhibit’s star is the Giganotosaurus, a genetic, and much bigger, cousin of the T-Rex.

By housing these three museums alongside its five-story domed OMNIMAX theater, the Cincinnati Museum hopes to give something to kids of all ages. “What’s great about [the Museum Center] is you can grow with the museum,” says Kroger.

›› Upcoming Events

Sept. 13
Museum Center Free Friday.
From 4-8 p.m. all three museums are free.

Oct. 26
Museum Center’s Annual BatFest. Experts share information about the importance of bats.

Nov. 8
Holiday Junction exhibit’s first day, which features the Duke Energy Holiday trains.