The new Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery at Melbourne Museum is open after a complete redevelopment that has resulted in a world-class immersive learning and play experience.
The new gallery features more than 2000 square metres of indoor and outdoor play spaces, with input from children, early childhood educators, playground creators, landscape designers and many more experts including museum staff.
Children can enter through a child-sized tunnel, past a 1/3-scale steam engine and railway-style tiling and soundscape.
Outside, there are sculptures that tell the indigenous story of Tiddalik, the frog who drank all the water. The final sculpture features Tiddalik laughing and spilling water across the land.
There are dinosaur footprints leading to a sandpit where junior palaeontologists can excavate a mamenchisaurus skeleton, along with areas for building with foam, swing seats and quiet spaces.
One of the centrepiece installations is a huge net climbing structure up to three metres in height. This is a huge hit but note that little kids may become frightened up there and it’s large enough for adults to climb into to rescue them.
There are also great spots for quiet story telling, light displays, magic mirrors, block and magnet play… the list goes on.
The new Children’s Gallery is certain to become a Melbourne icon. At the gallery launch a new “Museum Generation” initiative was unveiled, with every child born or fostered in 2017 eligible for a free six-month household membership that will be offered at eight-week checkups or upon application. The museum already hosts 650,000 children a year – this figure looks set to grow as it reaches out to new audiences in spectacular new ways.
Thanks to journalist and mum of two Erika Jonsson for her review!
- Pram parking is available at the cloakroom free of charge, along with storage for large bags;
- there is also pram parking at the entry of the gallery which can spill out into the gallery corridor when busy;
- Give yourself and your kids plenty of time to explore the new gallery. It is aimed particularly at kids aged from birth to five but children (and adults!) of all ages will enjoy the space;
- The new gallery has change facilities, toilets and extensive room for feeding babies, including microwaves and comfortable seating;
- There is a small cafe offering drinks and light snacks; there’s also seating inside and out for people to eat. The kids lunchboxes ($9.50) are a hit with my kids and include a sandwich, fruit drink, choice of piece of fruit and cookie. If you’re a Museums Victoria member you get 10% discount and you can swap the fruit drink for bottled water; and
- Don’t forget hats and sunscreen if you’re planning to play outside as not all areas offer shade.