With the opening of the Missouri Children’s Museum, Gil and Regina Wilshire brought new life into an old white farmhouse at the Route Z exit off Interstate 70.
Colorful murals painted by partner Reji White decorate the walls of the two-story, eight-room, multi-themed facility, which offers educational and interactive activities for children ages 1 to 13.
“We have everything from the messy art room for arts and crafts to the medical center where kids can learn about being a doctor or the brainstorm builders room where kids can play with Legos and do brain testers,” Regina Wilshire said. “Our motto is we’re a place where kids play to learn and adults learn to play again.”
Wilshire, the vice president and managing director, said she got the idea for the museum after visiting the Mountain Top Children’s Museum in Breckenridge, Colo. “My son Hunter just loved the Colorado museum and didn’t want to leave,” she said. “I thought, ‘I wish we had something like this in Columbia.’”
Wilshire said their museum is unlike the Youzuem, an interactive science center for children in downtown Columbia. “We’re different from Youzuem because every exhibit they offer is focused on health and nutrition, and our focus is inspiring play-based learning in a lot of different areas,” Wilshire said.
More than 60 people came to the Missouri Children’s Museum on the opening weekend in mid-December, and an average of 150 people per week have used the museum since then. “I’d like it to be a resource for parents where parents can come and really have a great time with their children,” Wilshire said. “Every adult who comes through here is getting on the floor and playing with kids, and that’s what we want to inspire is that active playing and learning.”
The facility operators have plans for 50 more themed rooms that will rotate in and out of the museum so there’s always something new inside. In April, the outdoor activities will begin and will include a tepee and an archeological site.
“The museum provides a wholesome, child-centered, entertaining space where children can engage in healthy play and receive numerous educational opportunities in the process,” said Gil Wilshire, president and CEO. “We’re getting great reviews; kids keep crying when they have to go.”
The museum’s address is 8700 I-70 Drive S.E. Admission is $7.50 for children ages 1 to 12 and $5 for ages 13 to adult and is good all day so families can have the flexibility of coming and going as they desire. For more information, call 886-PLAY or visit www.missourichildrensmuseum.com.
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