Oh, the joy and wonder; the thrills that come from learning through imagination and play. They’re all available to kids by virtue of a simple ride up an escalator to the second floor of the Valley River Mall, where the magic of the new Adventure! Children’s Museum beckons.
Consider the possibilities:
The Key & Arrow is a bustling, mid-century newsroom boasting a kid-friendly printing press and desks stocked with period cameras, typewriters, and retro communications gear. Then there’s the mock Southwest desert site, where young paleontologists can dig for dinosaur bones and fossils and investigate their finds in a field tent. Or the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, sending aspiring actors on a trip back to the 17th century, where they can dress in period costumes and rehearse roles for an Elizabethan play. The new museum is already hosting nearly a dozen similar exhibits.
“We’re really big proponents of child-led learning,” explains Amelia Reising, the museum’s founder and director. A graphic designer and former bookseller, Reising is just now starting to see the buds of her adventure museum vision blossom after years of dreaming and planning. It’s been hard work; the ambitious vision has been implemented and shaped by a legion of donors and volunteers.
“I will fully admit,” Reising says, laughing, “that I did not know everything that goes into starting a children’s museum.” She continues, “I’ll also admit that perhaps my goals were lofty for someone who hadn’t done something like this before.” Maybe. But a cursory walk around the fledgling museum, coupled with a brief chat with Reising, leaves little doubt about her convictions. Her plans for museum programs and exhibits appear boundless, with a timeline reaching out beyond 50 years.
“The original grand vision was to eventually be like the Portland Children’s Museum,” Reising says. “To have 30,000 square feet, and to have big, professional exhibits.” The Valley River museum site currently occupies about 6,000 square feet.
“That original vision?” she teases, “It still lives. We’re starting in this small space, and we have all these exhibits that are hand-built, but it’s still pretty awesome!”