Once upon a time, about two years ago, some neighbors and I embarked on an adventure to start a children's museum right here in Sacramento. We made some decent progress when we were shocked to discover another group was working on the same concept. We handed over all of our materials and gracefully bowed out of the competition, as we were promised that the other group had significant fundraising capabilities and "larger" contacts in the community.
Two years and some change later and the Sacramento Children's Museum website hasn't been updated. From what I understand, they got stalled in arena talks, the discussion of putting some sort of civic contribution at the railyard and general infighting among the group. It's a real tragedy that they have been unable to get something productive off the ground.
What brings this up? I spent the day with my son at the Stockton Children's Museum. We sat in a real ambulance, police car, bus and fire truck. We shopped at a pretend grocery store, looked at x-rays, learned about delta fish and made some great art. For a measly $4.50 each, we played in an airconditioned, child-friendly, educational center. For three hours, he was able to touch everything in sight, experiment and play in his own way and discover how to make current flow on a water table.
So why don't we have a children's museum? Most major cities in the US have at least one, some have several. My personal favorite is in Portland, but we have also visited similar designs in San Jose, Seattle, San Antonio, and San Francisco. Each is unique in the way it is presented, but all are designed for children to learn and explore on his/her own terms. They allow children of all types, ages, shapes, sizes, disabilities and backgrounds to come together and play in a unifying and friendly way.
It's time for Sacramento to get on board. Sure we have the Discovery Museum or Explorit in Davis but these aren't the same. Science museums are exciting and interesting but you have to be old enough to manipulate the exhibits and understand the context of the information. At a true children's museum, kids come in with all different education levels and still appreciate the exhibits, discovering and learning as they go through.
If we are to be a true family friendly city, it's time to provide an enriching, enlightening experience for all families to enjoy. If Stockton can do it, Sacramento can too.