If you ever find yourself wondering what to do with the kids on a rainy or otherwise inclement or boring day — and worrying that they’re getting entirely too much screen time — you may want to consider visiting one of our local children’s museums. Designed to trick them into learning while having fun, these facilities will engage them on an intellectual and artistic level, and make them forget about televisions and electronic devices for a little while. Here’s a snapshot of who they are and what they offer…
Since 1986, this 30,000 square-foot facility, located at 420 Julia Street in the Warehouse District, has provided children with diverse, memorable interactive experiences designed to make learning fun. About 147,000 visitors per year enjoy their exhibits, which include: Bubbles, Fetch!, Safety Zone, Simple Machines, Times Picayune Theater, Merieult House of the Historic New Orleans Collection, Art Trek, Talk & Play Center, New Orleans: Proud to Call it Home Architecture Exhibit, Eye to Eye, First Adventures, Kids’ Cafe, Little Port of New Orleans, and the ever popular Lil’ Grocery Store.
LCM strives to stimulate children’s minds and senses by hosting weekly themed events, such as Art Trek, STEM Lab, Storytimes, Toddler Time, Fitness Friday. Their annual signature events include CHAIRish the Children Auction & Gala, Festival of Trees Family Fun Day, New Year’s Eve Countdown to Noon, and of course, the Children’s World’s Fair, which is coming up in March.
Children’s World’s Fair
This year’s event will take place on March 24, and will celebrate New Orleans’ 300th birthday by showcasing the cultures and people that have made the city a unique cultural melting pot. Visitors can experience crafts, activities, music, food, performances, and STEM experiments within exhibits that explore the African, Asian, European, Latin American / Caribbean, and Native American influences that have shaped New Orleans culture. Everyone will receive a Passport Book (to get stamped in each exhibit) and a keepsake photo from the Postcard Photo Booth Station.
Spring Camp will take place from March 29 – April 4, and this year’s theme is “Our Own Back Yard.” Children ages 5-8 will dig, plant and investigate with soil; learn about New Orleans’ native plants and flowers; create a landscape design; plant a mini garden, and more. Hours are 9am-3pm with curbside drop-off available from 8:45-9am.
Summer Camps for the same age group and with the same daily schedule will run from June 4-August 10, with a different theme each week.
New Facility in City Park
LCM will “Take It Outside” in 2019 with the completion of a dynamic new child-centered, family-friendly museum on a on-half acre site overlooking a lagoon in beautiful, historic City Park. The new 56,000 square-foot facility will have indoor and outdoor environmental elements, including decks, bridges, sensory and edible gardens, a floating classroom and a restored interpretive wetlands area. Highlights will include:
- five new indoor exhibit galleries
- literacy center
- parent and teacher resource center
- full-service café
- a life-sized interactive chess board which will teach children about New Orleans history
- experiential floating classroom on the lagoon’s edge in the wetlands environment
- Mighty Mississippi exhibit, which tells the story of the journey of the River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota, through St. Louis and Memphis all the way to the Port of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico
For more information on all the Louisiana Children’s Center has to offer, be sure to visit their website.
The planning of the Children’s Museum of St. Tammany has been in the works for decades, and the wheels are finally in motion, thanks to the Junior League of Greater Covington, St. Tammany Parish Public School System, and the Tammany Trace Foundation. There’s an ongoing, concerted effort to raise money for the construction of a grand museum that will encourage play, creativity, and learning, but the interim facility is already up and running.
A precursor to the bigger facility, this mini-town project is located adjacent to Kids Konnection playground on Koop Drive in Mandeville, convenient for families biking the Tammany Trace. It’s primarily for toddlers through early childhood age children, but with special programming for older kids, too. School field trip attendees, story time visitors and birthday party guests can enjoy STEM-focused and artistic activities, with more expansion to come.
Camps & Events
CMST’s Museum Without Walls (MWW) outreach team is serving the community as an educational resource. Trained volunteers have provided hands-on activities and art awareness to more than 15,000 elementary students in St. Tammany Parish public and private schools. They’ve also participated in community events, such as Read for the Record, Boo Fest, the Three Rivers Art Festival.
Plans for the Future
Local businesses and organizations have already sponsored exhibits for the new facility.
- The United Way Women’s Leadership Council of the Northshore: early childhood programming
- Franco’s Athletic Club: health industry-related exhibit
- Dunavant Wealth Management Group: an exhibit promoting fiscal responsibility
There are multiple ways to help the museum become a reality: sponsorships, volunteer opportunities, and donations. Charter memberships are also available. Visit the website for details.
Located in historic downtown Hammond, the LCDC has served over 155,000 children and their families to date. An excellent educational resource for the community, it offers over 30 different engaging interactive hands-on exhibits and programs. Though it is designed for kids 10 and under, it offers activities to engage older kids and teens, as well.
The facility’s many exhibits are designed to stimulate kids’ minds and challenge their bodies. Some of the many highlights include Bubble Stations, Creation Station, Safety City, Construction Zone, Tactile Tunnel, Music Factory, Rock Wall, Theater, Aerobic Alley, Vet Clinic, and more.
Events & Activities
LCDC’s calendar is packed with storytimes, special events, educational activities, and extracurricular programs, like the “Bayou Builders” LEGO team and a junior volunteer program. Birthday party packages are also available.
For information on programming, memberships, and more, visit their website.