Destination: Kidzu Children's Museum
Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill has been grabbing headlines lately for record attendance numbers and a big grant that will allow it to expand even outside the walls of its museum later this year.Posted — Updated
The good news comes after a nomadic few years for the museum as it moved from space on Franklin Street to inside another space at the mall.
Regardless of what happens next as far as its location, the folks who run Kidzu are hard at work to fill out the current space with exhibits that will appeal to babies, grade schoolers, tweens and their adults. The desire is to get families away from their various electronic devices and encourage them to play together.
"Our goal is to be as family inclusive as possible," said Candace King, Kidzu's communications manager. "We are a children's museum, but you're never too old to play."
The new space includes some of Kidzu's long-time favorite exhibits - the Gravitron, which uses a huge Archimedes' Screw to move balls, and the farm and farmer's market. A theater features dress up clothes for kids, lights and a background that they can manipulate through a projection system. A quiet Book Nook offers a space for reading, puzzles and quiet activities. There also is a dedicated space for little ones who aren't walking yet.
But Kidzu also combines newer exhibits, especially some that have proven popular with older children. There's a 2.5-story tree house, rock climbing wall and The Makery, where kids, especially tweens, can experiment and get creative with a variety of different tools - from hammers and nails to glue and string. My 10-year-old stayed busy for more than an hour, bouncing between the rock wall and The Makery.
Next year will offer more change for Kidzu, King said. In the spring, they hope to open the pollinator-based exhibits. The outdoor hive play piece will sit just outside Kidzu next to the mall entrance where Alfredo's Pizza Villa is located. It will be free for all to play outside.
Also in the works: A Zoom Wall with race cars and a race track should open in the next few months. And the museum is raising money to add a pulley system to the Gravitron.