columbus' community children's museum

click to enlargeAfter nearly three years of study and planning, kidscommons was founded in 1998 by a group of Columbus citizens. Located downtown in The Commons Centre, the museum hosted thousands of children and their parents over the next seven years.

Since the pilot museum was so successful, a decision was made to expand the facility. The Heritage Fund, a local foundation, supported the museum's growth and purchased a three-story building that will enable the staff to continue helping kids explore, create, and collaborate for many years to come.

Work began on the new museum in 2004. Facilitated by local architect Louis Joyner, Quatrefoil Exhibit Designers from Maryland and professionals from the Cincinnati Children's Museum designed the museum to serve children who are infants through age fourteen.

Kidscommons offers many opportunities for fun and learning, and it features three floors of interactive exhibits, all of which are accessible by way of ramps and an elevator. The new museum opened to the public in September, 2005 at 309 Washington Street.

There's always something going on at kidscommons, and museum educators are on hand to encourage kids to create art or to learn about science and our community. Visitors are welcome to explore the museum on their own, too.

Museum Features and Fun Activities

Click to see larger picture.First floor exhibits include a child-sized version of an authentic Japanese home. This exhibit, will be click to enlargechanged every two years or so in order to showcase a different country. The Childhood Garden will delight younger children. They can climb into a small travel trailer to examine bug specimens, or curl up with a book in the hollow reading tree. Also available are many interactive displays of bird and bat models complete with natural sounds.

Reuse and recycling play an important role in the art area. Kids draw, paint, make collages, and they create sculptures and inventions from cast-off materials gathered from local industries. Art offerings will be expanded in the new museum, so we can explore line, shape, color, value, and texture, and we'll learn about famous artists and their work.

Click to see larger image.Columbus Works is a giant assemblage of found objects located on the wall near the staircase. A fireman's boot, car muffler, corncobs, hard hat, and even a skeleton's foot donated by an orthopedic surgeon are among the many items that stand for the occupations or jobs that people have in Columbus.

click for larger viewManufacturing is important to people who live in Columbus and nearby communities. In the materials handling area, kids have fun using the conveyor belt and pretending they are processing mail or making pizzas.

click for larger image  The second floor is dominated by a 17-foot-tall climbing wall, which is a copy of the front of the building. Children who are at least five years old are welcome to scamper up the bricks and windows like Spider-Man.  
Behind the climbing wall, visitors can float over to the bubble tank. One of the most popular areas at the museum, many kids take part at one time, dipping a variety of wands into the giant vat. It's fun trying to see who can make the biggest bubble! The Explorahouse, which is due to open sometime next year, will allow kids to climb through walls to examine the inner workings of a house. click to enlarge image
  Since architecture is so important to Columbus, it's only natural that kids enjoy playing with building blocks at the museum. Click for a larger view. A town construction area provides lots of opportunities for future architects to design cities out of cardboard houses, schools, and other public buildings. 

Click to see larger view.

On the third level, visitors can challenge each other to a game of chess and play with oversized pieces on a giant game board. A story-telling computer station with a camera allows visitors to add their personal message to a museum visit. Older children will enjoy a state-of-the-art computer lab in the Power Outlet where they can learn how to make their own videos.

kidscommons Special Activities

Besides these museum features, kidscommons offers many outstanding activities throughout the year. For example, kidscommons sponsored the American division of the Living in the Mirror Mail Art Show several years ago. click for larger image

kidscommons Special Uses

Some of the science subjects that will be explored are the human body, electricity, sound, bubbles, recycling, wetlands, astronomy, fossils, rocks, and minerals. Additional programs, such as the game of chess, introduction to climbing, birds of prey, and community planning will be centered around new exhibits as they are introduced.

Hours of Operation
  • 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
  • 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. on Sunday

Kidscommons is closed Mondays, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

For more information about the museum and kidscommons programs, phone 812-378-3046 or visit the kidscommons Web site at

Click on any of the small images below for a larger version.

© 2005 Marilyn J. Brackney, All Rights Reserved

Text and images may not be copied
without permission of the author

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