Story Ideas

Kid’s play in Manitoba

Winnipeg’s newly renovated children’s museum will offer all-out fun for the whole family.

07 June 2011
by Michele Peterson

Kids of all ages are looking forward to the grand reopening of the Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks National Historic Site on June 4, 2011. Founded in Winnipeg in 1982 and already considered one of the top children’s museums in the world, this innovative funhouse is getting a $10-million makeover by Montreal-based Toboggan Design (known for the Canadian Children’s Museum in Ottawa) and Syverson Monteyne Architecture that will double the museum’s gallery space and better showcase the historic CN train repair building.

Highlights of the makeover include a playful Rubik’s Cube entrance (think Toronto’s ROM Crystal for kids) and 12 new galleries based on the theme of building blocks. Each play zone offers learn-while-you-play opportunities such as a table that simulates an earthquake, complete with tumbling blocks. Many also offer Prairie-inspired experiences such as stepping inside a giant Milk Machine cow to learn about modern dairy farming or chilling out in a reading cocoon within a peaceful faux marsh. The ultramodern Arts & Exhibition Centre will host the latest in travelling exhibits, performers and theatre productions.

Although the museum promotes a love of learning, there will be plenty of opportunities to get silly. A much-anticipated play zone is Lasagna Lookout, a pasta-themed structure where visitors can dodge meatballs and crawl through a fettuccine tunnel.

Outdoors, kids can go wild at the nearby Variety Heritage Adventure Park, opening this summer. Situated on lands once occupied by Fort Gibraltar, a North West Company trading post, this new Parks Canada site offers birch bark canoes, splash pads, York boats and other interactive play structures designed to bring Manitoba’s heritage to life.

All these renovations won’t disrupt the museum’s winning formula of imagination and make-believe. The beloved CN diesel locomotive No. 9161 and vintage passenger coach will continue to be the heart of the museum, letting visitors journey to wherever their imagination wants to go.

Toronto-based writer Michele Peterson was born in the northern Manitoba mining town of Flin Flon and raised in Winnipeg.

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