This time last year, the community was given a major gift, which didn’t come from a red velvet bag carried through a chimney, but, instead, it arrived as a three-story building filled with wonder and merriment for children through what has become an award-winning children’s museum.
This Wednesday, downtown’s Candyland Children’s Museum is celebrating one year open, and the staff is ready to welcome children for free, thanks to support from the Jennifer and Steve Moore Foundation and welcome community leaders, parents, and those who haven’t visited the finished space or simply wish to celebrate with them.
“It feels like it has been less than a year, but also years in the making,” Candyland Executive Director Megan Baum said. “It is just an incredible opportunity to reflect on how good a thing Candyland is for the community. I think of all the kids who have come in, whether that is with parents or on field trips, and their lives are different because of Candyland and Candyland is different because of them. I think it has been a moment to pause and just be grateful for those who believed in us and the people who played a role in making this happen.”
The museum has seven exhibit spaces across 6,000 square feet of imagination and learning. They also have regular classroom sessions throughout the month that feature hands-on learning opportunities.
“I think I’ve learned that there is not one cookie cutter Candyland kid. I think there is a lot of talk in the world about hands-on learning and its importance. Until you see it in action, though, you don’t really see how significant it is for kids to learn through play. It crosses all borders, through the importance and significance of it. It is not about race or socioeconomic status—this is how children were built to learn and that is through play, which is what they come to do at the museum.”
The museum educates children through hands-on play and covers a wide array of topics from the STEAM category of learning. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Through various crafts and engineering projects, students have learned about electricity. Through play, students have learned how the body works. Over an impressive year of schedules, students have learned complex lessons in easily digestible lesson plans involving play.
In fact, according to Baum, the museum welcomed 24,000 visitors its first year. They offered 50 classes and 14 special events on top of their regular programming.
While the museum has had a busy year, they are gearing up for another year of learning and that means changes.
“We want to be set apart as a children’s museum by being a place that changes,” Baum said. “We don’t want people saying they’ve been there and done that, because the place has gone stale. You can expect some of the exhibit spaces to change and look different and for some of the toys to change in the coming months.”
Admission to the museum is typically $10, but the museum has membership packages starting at $125 a year. Classes are typically $20 per student. Private party rental is also available. They do offer discounted admission for parents receiving EBT/WIC at $2 per individual.
Visit Candyland at 202 Market Street, Portsmouth.
Candyland welcomes people to a one-year reception this Wednesday, December 21, between 9:30 a.m. and noon. In addition to that reception, children are allowed to learn free that day.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved