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8 traveling exhibits worth taking the kids

By Karen Stysley

There is nothing like a traveling exhibit to bring new excitement to a museum, and the Maryland area has many museums with cool traveling exhibits right now.

This month Port Discovery in Baltimore gets something that has been on its wish list for quite awhile and local kids will be thrilled.

LEGO Castle Adventure is coming as the museum’s newest temporary exhibit. A huge LEGO castle, colorful LEGO dragon and bricks both large and small will fill up the museum’s third floor and give kids of all ages a chance to build to their heart’s content — until it leaves in September.

“I can imagine it will be a huge draw,” says Kris Harrison, a Columbia mom who has taken her kids to Port Discovery for years.

Traveling exhibits are bread and butter for many local museums. It keeps them fresh and keeps visitors coming back again and again.

TemExhibitsWMichelle Winner, vice president of marketing for Port Discovery, says that the museum changes its temporary exhibit two to three times a year, trying to have at least one blockbuster in at a time. Having such exhibits can draw new people to the museum, and give repeat customers like Harrison, the “opportunity to experience something fresh and new,” Winner explains.

“When there’s a new exhibit, it definitely lures us back as an activity to do with the kids on the weekends,” Harrison agrees.

Winner says that Port Discovery looks for traveling exhibits that will be engaging for kids as well as educational. It also helps if the exhibit has a popular brand like LEGO associated with it, she says. Port Discovery has been on the waiting list three to four years for the LEGO exhibit, which is on loan from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Temporary exhibits can be developed by other museums and shared or develop by a local museum to display for a set period of time, like an exhibit coming to Port Discovery in the fall of 2015 called “Here We Grow.” The exhibit is being made in partnership with local farmers and will teach kids about the process of how food goes from farm to table, Winner says.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture in Baltimore also seeks out traveling exhibits and gravitates “to exhibitions that allow us to offer audiences… rich educational and community engagement experiences,” says Helen Yuen, director of marketing. The museums newest traveling exhibit showcases the historic accomplishments of the Dance Theater of Harlem and can be of interest to young and old alike.

If you are looking for something fresh at area museums this winter, check out theses seven kid friendly traveling exhibits currently at museums in the area.

1. LEGO Castle Adventure at Port Discovery Children’s Museum, BaltimoreTraveleingExhibitLego2W

A giant LEGO castle is the centerpiece of this exhibit, complete with a lookout tower to climb and a slide. Kids can see a LEGO dragon and have lots of opportunity to build with the popular little plastic bricks. Smaller kids also have age-appropriate building opportunities.
Feb. 14-Sept. 20, 2015
Included with $14.50 admission.

2. The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen at The Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore

Get acquainted with the most interesting person you have never heard of. He was at Fort McHenry when the bombs were bursting in air; at the Supreme Court when states rights were at stake; in Paris when the people prepared the barricades; at the Vatican for the installation of a new pope; down the Nile to collect artifacts; in Jerusalem as the first American tourist; in Annapolis when arguments raged over fugitive slaves and on the board of the nation’s first railroad. The museum has turned the many twists and turns of this real life adventurer into a maze.
Hands-on activities include trying to clear the fort’s powder magazine, building the Washington Monument and creating a strip map of Mendes’ journeys.
Through June 14, 2015
Included with admission of $8 for adults, $3 for children younger than 12 and $4 for students.

3. Designing for Disaster at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

Older kids will enjoy learning how to build in a way that mitigates the effects of natural disasters. They can build little houses and see how well various designs fare in a “wall of wind.” The exhibit also features a “shifting staircase” that demonstrates how expansion joints would work within stadium stairs during an earthquake.
Through Aug. 2, 2015
Exhibit admission is $8 for adults; $5 for youth, students and seniors.

4. Lessons Learned: American Schoolgirl Embroideries at Baltimore Museum of Art

See what kids of the past accomplished in school with needles and thread. The exhibit features more than 20 embroideries by American schoolgirls from Maryland and other East Coast states in the 18th and 19th centuries. The works vary from simple to fancy and show how children back then displayed their skills and learned virtues like patience and diligence. The works include everything from landscapes to Biblical scenes.
Through May 2015
Free admission

5. Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

Children who love space may want to check out this exhibit, which examines various aspects of extra-vehicular activity (working outside of a spacecraft). Artifacts, photos and personal accounts help tell the story of how astronauts manage to do jobs out in space like walking on the moon or repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. Watch for a “Discovery Station” cart with staff on hand to provide discussion and hands-on activities about the contents of the exhibit.
Through June 8, 2015
Free admission

6. Video Game Wizards—Transforming Science and Art into Games at Baltimore Museum of Industry

Learn what it takes to design a video game and virtually meet game makers by exploring six stations. Visitors can develop and play their own game and then share it on the exhibit’s website.
Through 2019
Included with admission of $12 for adults; $7, children 7-18 and free for those younger than 6.

TravelingExhibitHarlam1W7. Dance Theater of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts at Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, Baltimore

Young dancers will enjoy seeing costumes, videos and set pieces from the Dance Theater of Harlem.
April 15-Aug. 30, 2015
Included with admission of $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, students, and children ages 7-17 and free for children 6 and under.

8. “President Lincoln is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination” at the Newseum, Washington, D.C.

Older children and budding journalists will appreciate seeing seven special editions of the New York Herald newspaper that reported the death of President Lincoln as it unfolded in 1865.
Opens Feb. 13, 2015
Included with admission of $22.95 for adults; $18.95, seniors; $13.95, children 7-18 and free for children 6 and younger. newseum.org




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