Geelong's historic 160-year-old “Wintergarden” has undergone a huge transformation to become the first ever Geelong Children's Museum ‘MoPA: Museum of Play and Art'!
MoPA is Geelong's Children's Museum – a beautiful and creative space for children and families to play and learn together.
It caters for children aged 1 to 10 years old best, although it's such a fun place no doubt kids of all ages will love it!
Adults can relax with a coffee from the onsite cafe, get into the exhibits and have a play themselves, or chat with MoPA‘s team of educators to learn about play-based learning and the learning and development their young ones are experiencing at the Museum.
The two-level heritage building is a brightly coloured and cheerful space with so much to explore, from sensory play to digital experiences.
As well as the permanent exhibits there is a planned schedule of activations which are included in the entry fee, from yoga to dance.
What is most impressive about MoPA is that a lot of what you see has been custom-designed, hand-built and painted by Tom and Billie. You can see the craftsmanship in the exhibits and it really is a labour of love.
Lady AB particularly enjoys playing and interacting with the digital art wall.<
Become the Mona Lisa, mime like Marcel Marceau, turn your face into a Picasso masterpiece….
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….stick your head into a mirror to hear affirmations from other children and pat a furry, purring cube!
You can also submit your children's artwork into the digital picture frame.
Children age 0-2 years will love the soft play area, with lots of foam blocks and large-scale human face puzzles set into the wall. I like how the wall hides pigeon holes for kids' shoes – having shoes strewn everywhere on the floor is my pet hate!
Active kids can explore ‘Sunset City', a hand-built climbing cityscape with hidey-holes at all different levels. It's been built so that adults can peek in through the sides to check on their kids!
The lights inside change colour and for birthday parties the guest of honour can choose to set the lights to their favourite hue!
Speaking of lights, you can activate a rainbow inside this interactive light tunnel arch!
The mirror corner with blocks is perfect for babies and toddlers….
….while the intriguing wall of hanging tubes offer curious kids twelve different sounds that they have to try and recognise.
Everyone loves the wind tunnel chutes that shoot soft scarves high into the air!
Lady AB spends a lot of time sending/spamming me with photos and gifs by putting fun stickers on her image.
On each of the two sides of the ground floor are the toilets, an expansive pram parking area and creative craft/party rooms.
The back covered conservatory area is for eating, with bench seating on the sides for adults to supervise while kids play with the Imagination Playground foam parts. Outside food is not allowed inside the venue so there is a cafe on site.
In the leafy courtyard, you'll find crates that double as play equipment and furniture as well as a fun magnetic ball run wall.
When you go upstairs there's even more fun to be had! Note that there is no lift in the building. If you have little ones you will have to supervise them around the stairs, though once you're upstairs there are child-proof gates so that kids can't exit without adult assistance.
Upstairs you'll find a lovely chill-out space.
Get away from the buzz of the museum with books, bean bags and big arch windows bringing in lots of natural light.<
On both sides of the ‘U' shaped balcony there are giant two-way kaleidoscopes and digital colouring-in stations.
Lady AB has fun dressing up for the stage performance area (with lights that are activated by clapping!)…
….while Baby 2.0 spends ages testing race cars on all the different car tracks.
Currently MoPA offers free-play sessions weekdays during school terms 9:30am – 4:30pm ie mainly aimed at babies, toddlers and preschoolers and kindergarten and school groups.
On weekends MoPA will host parties and functions and regularly open after hours for adults-only events as part of MoPA After Dark. After Dark is a series of curated talks from Early Learning practitioners and academics designed to help parents. The seminars, classes, functions and events will cover a huge range of topics from sleep to resilience, diet to anxiety and depression.
If you're in Melbourne you can also look forward to MoPA opening in Sandringham in late 2021!
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HOT Tips for Museum of Play and Art Geelong:
- Suitable for kids 1-10 years approximately;
- soft play area for 0-2 years only;
- Bookings essential, maximum 100 people per session start time;
- Visitors must book and arrive during a morning, midday or afternoon session times but can stay for as long as you like;
- kinder and school groups program available;
- 2 x party rooms;
- pram parking;
- toilets, change facilities and parents room on ground floor;
- no lift to the first floor, only stairs;
- access to the first floor is via a child-proof gate;
- no outside food is to be brought in;
- onsite cafe;
- no wifi, 4G reception poor inside due to heritage building;
- heating and air-conditioning available;
- from February 2020, opening after hours for adults-only events MoPA After Dark with food trucks and bar;
- MoPA eGift Cards can be redeemed on anything (Play, Programs, Parties, After Dark and more);
- Members enjoy unlimited Play Sessions and discounts across Programs, Parties, After Dark (adult members only) and more.
- MoPA has a small visitor carpark with 12 spaces, accessible via Cullins Place;
- surrounding streets have 2 hour or unlimited parking;
- South Geelong train station is approximately 10 minute walk, Geelong train station is approximately 20 minute walk.