Earlier this week, my children and I had the opportunity to attend a test event for the new Museum of Natural Curiosity, which opens at Thanksgiving Point on May 15, 2014. Though some of the museum’s features were not yet open, we were there for over three hours and are eager to return to try the rest of the museum.
I recommend the Museum of Natural Curiosity for families with children under the age of 12. However, teens and adults are welcome to participate in nearly all the interactive exhibits, so this isn’t one of those children’s museums where you have to just sit and watch your kids play. For families with babies and toddlers, there several play areas reserved just for them.
The Museum of Natural Curiosity has five main exhibit areas:
The Rainforest is where my kids (ages 7 and 9) spent most of their time. The Temple Climb is like a fast food play zone on steroids, with rope bridges, an airplane, obstacle course, twisty slide and a tower of trampoline nets that allow kids to climb up to the rafters or slip through in a controlled fall to the museum floor.
Once they had burned through some of their excitement and energy, my children turned their attention to the slower-paced educational features of the Rainforest. They compared their strength with a python’s, flapped like hummingbirds, and examined minerals and insects through microscopes. Tip: When you flap like a hummingbird, be aware that there is a video camera pointed at you. Climb inside the giant stone monkey head to watch your footage.
After the Temple Climb, my kids’ favorite spot was the Chamber of Courage. This exhibit is all about using your senses. They climbed through the completely dark Touch Tunnel over and over again.
This is the exhibit we are most excited to experience when we return. Water Works was open while we were there, but the water features were not yet up and running. Families may have so much fun in this area, they won’t notice how much they’re learning about the science of water, wind, sun and earth.
To keep visitors from becoming completely soaked, the museum will provide waterproof outerwear. There is a wind chamber, which can help dry you off too.
Kidopolis is a miniature city where kids are in charge of everything. Explore shops and secret passageways to find new hands-on activities around every corner. My son found his happy place in Sebastian’s Tinker Shop, while my daughter had fun dressing up in the theater.
Thanksgiving Point’s existing Children’s Garden will become part of the Museum of Natural Curiosity. We weren’t able to explore this section of the museum, but we have visited the Children’s Garden before, and it is delightful. Expect new nature exhibits and the Archimedes simple machines playground.
The Museum of Natural Curiosity has a 5-year agreement with The Exploratorium in San Francisco. This area will host temporary exhibits that “teach about the world through science, art, and human perception.”
Utah has many good museums for families. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but The Museum of Natural Curiosity has certainly positioned itself as a contender.
Good to Know
Where: Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. The museum’s address is 3900 N. Garden Drive.
When: Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Closed Sunday.
- Adults: $15
- Children: (3-12 years): $12
- Seniors: $12
- Annual Thanksgiving Point Membership: $195. Tip: Save $20 if you purchase or renew your membership before May 15, 2014.
How Long: 2-4 hours
Amenities: Cafe, gift shop, family restrooms and nursing areas.
The Museum of Natural Curiosity is just one of the top-notch attractions at Thanksgiving Point. Here are some of its other features:
- Thanksgiving Point Gardens
- Museum of Ancient Life
- Farm Country
- Tulip Festival (April-May)
- Dining and Shopping