PORTSMOUTH – The Joanne K. Glockner Candyland Children’s Museum officially opened Dec. 12.
The museum is located at 202 Market Street in downtown Portsmouth – the site of the former Candyland store, which so many locals remember quite fondly.
“The history of this location is so fun,” said Megan Baum, Director of the museum. “It’s great to hear older people tell their experiences of Candyland from years ago. So, we decided to base our mascot – a parrot – and some of those old stories of the candy shop.”
The museum is a three-floor state-of-the-art facility designed for children to play, discover, and learn in a fun interactive environment.
“I’ve been a humble recipient of someone else’s dream,” explained Baum. “Kelly Babcock and Cindy Wolfe spearheaded this idea…and it really sprung up because folks were traveling out of town to visit great museums with their children. So, they started a board, we became a nonprofit, and we teamed up with the building owner to do a huge renovation to make this happen.”
Baum, who has lived in Portsmouth for over eight years, says the redevelopment of downtown has been great for the city – but children’s activities were still lagging behind.
“All of the things happening downtown are great – but they are mainly for adults. We were missing things for children to do, overall. So, I think our museum is going to be a great gift for young families.”
Baum says thus far, hundreds of families have visited the Candyland Children’s Museum in the first few weeks.
“The response has been great. Sometimes it’s even more people that we can manage,” she laughed. “But it just shows the quality of our museum and our space.”
Candyland features six major exhibits. “Let’s Go” is about exploring motion through simple machines and features a 20-foot water table with a built-in pipe system, locks and dams. “Let’s Perform” features a performing arts stage with costumes, a reading nook, and a life-size camper van. “Let’s Create” is an arts and science room built for STEAM activities to host workshops, classes and science experiments. “Let’s Eat” is a farm-to-table children’s experience with playhouses, barns, food trucks and ice cream carts. “Let’s Move” is all about physical play and fine motor skills and features climbing panels and a ninja warrior course. Finally, an upcoming exhibit in January will feature a two-story cityscape with 13 different professions children can explore, such as a doctor, construction worker, barista, teacher, and more.
“We brought in a lot of educators to the space and asked them questions based on their expertise,” said Baum. “It’s turned out great. But, from their input, we knew we also needed spaces for children with autism and sensory processing disorder…so we built the camper as a way for children to be able to kind of go in and decompress for a moment.”
Candyland costs $10 per person and is geared toward children up to age 10. In the future, Baum plans to add additional programming for older children, such as robotics workshops, woodworking and more.
Families that receive WIC or EBT benefits get in for $2 per person, Baum notes.
For more information, visit the Candyland Children’s Museum Facebook page or candylandmuseum.com.
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