Becka's studio is a great place for kids to create
The staff is friendly and helpful
The museum encourages imagination and creativity which is great if your kids are of the right age


It is small with only a handful of exhibits
There are not as many exhibits for toddlers and infants

Full Review

The childrens museum of Tacoma, Washington touts itself as a place for little ones to come play and learn. It is an organization dedicated to the creation of an imaginative environment for young children. Like many museums, the childrens museum of Tacoma has to strike a balance between educating children and holding their attention. In this modern world of video games and multimedia entertainment, holding a child's attention to create an imaginative environment can be difficult. So how does the childrens museum of Tacoma stack up? Is it a hang out place for your kids or just worth a short visit?

The first thing you notice when trying to visit the childrens museum of Tacoma is how hard it is to find. The museum is located in downtown Tacoma, Washington in the theater district. It is located between two other store fronts and can easily mistaken for a toy store. There is no dedicated parking, but on street parking is free for one hour in downtown Tacoma. Garage parking can be found close to the museum for $5.

Once you enter the childrens museum of Tacoma, you realize that the location is narrow but pretty deep. At the front is the admission/information services and a little museum store. The staff is friendly and very helpful for those visiting for the first time. Since the museum is built like a wide store, a visitor has no choice but to walk from front to back viewing each of the exhibits in turn. Some children may find this disappointing as they do not have the chance to explore on their own as much as some other museums.

The first area from the front of the museum an seating area where kids can put items in their own cubby holes. On the other side is an exhibit focusing on shapes and architecture. This exhibit lets a child mix shapes on a lite box with their hands. Toddlers may may have problems connecting to this area.

The next set of exhibits is called "the digs". It is a set of activities based on urban living. Here early grade schoolers and pre-schoolers can learn about urban gardening and food delivery. The focus is on where food comes from and children can play house, grow food, set the table etc. The highlight of the area is a place where children can paint a play house.

Going further back is a large play area where kids can learn about the pacific north west mythology. The area is based on the Gerald McDermott childrens stories about the raven and the coyote. Kids can dress up as either character and learn about the stories of these myths. There is also an area where the children can learn about book making and try their hand at creating stories. The latter is probably only suitable for grade schoolers.

Becka's Studio
The true highlight of the childrens museum of Tacoma is Becka's studio. The area is dedicated to former childrens museum of Tacoma employee Becka Ann Smith Ozias. It allows children to come in and create their own arts and crafts. On the day of the visit, the focus was on painting and toy streamers. Kids could create their own paintings, paint on a canvas with others, create a toy streamer or their own collage. Some kids seemed to go to just this area and stay for their whole visit.

CoyoteShapes ExhibitOutside of The Childrens Museum of Tacoma

In Closing

Overall the childrens museum of Tacoma is small, cozy museum. It can be the most fun for pre-schoolers and grade schoolers. It is not as interactive as some other museums but instead focuses on imagination and creation. The imagination and creation aspects make some of the exhibits unreachable for newborns and toddlers. Becka's studio is a great place for children of all ages and is really differentiates the childrens museum of Tacoma from other museums. Kids can go and spend hours creating their own artwork. It is the area with the most replay value in the museum.

There is no getting around the fact that the Childrens Museum of Tacoma is smaller other museums in the area such as the Childrens Museum of Olympia. On their website, they indicate that they will be moving to a new larger location in 2011. Hopefully the new location will have a better layout, more exhibits and allow kids to explore new areas.

The Childrens Museum of Tacoma can be found at:
936 Broadway Avenue

It is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday noon to 5pm.

Admission is:
Adults and Children $6.00
Children under 1 are Free