After hearing about some mediocre experiences from friends, my expectations were not high for the Children’s Museum of Richmond Central location. After all, I have been to a half dozen of them with my five year old and felt that I was done with kid’s museums. However, being the good mom that I am, I still wanted to check it out for my daughter’s sake.
When we got to the museum, the first thing my kiddo noticed was the simple, water play area. Of course I forgot to bring her swimsuit! We shuffled in the door to pay our admission fee. The Little Farm is specifically designated for babies to age 3. There are ride-on toys, a vegetable garden, and a simulated cow. Aside from the carousel and art studio, the museum exhibits are more for ages 1-4. The Living Tree House made little sense. A two level tree house consisted of a purple, spiral slide. At the base of the house were different living animals such as mice, frogs, turtles and Dominique chickens.
Always a favorite is the grocery store. Only one cart was available making shopping baskets the disappointing option. The adjacent cafe offered a drink station and cash register. Watch the mechanics of cranking the clock outside the bank. Kids can learn how to use (gasp!) an ATM machine. The safe was cool, but it was filled with foam blocks of coins and no paper currency. There is also an ambulance to climb aboard in the town square. Kids can learn to be a news broadcaster at the WCMOR television studio. While looking in the camera, a large screen TV is outside showing the reporter. It looked cute, but the studio was dark and had no ambiance. The Sunnyside School was closed for cleaning midday so I can’t even comment on that except that I saw a chalkboard and two desks. The Dino Zone consisted of a dinosaur you could slide down, numbered foam blocks, wooden blocks for building and an indoor sandbox filled with dinosaur bones. Sun Tubes are basically tubes of air in which you insert different colored cloths that eventually shoot out the other side.
The apple tree was a fun interactive exhibit sending apples through various holes. It kept my child’s interest in check for a good 10 minutes. The Cavern exhibit was neat although it was a very small version.
There are two areas for water play. Outside the museum by the entrance is an area with simple sprays. In the great big backyard, there is a smaller water area with sprinkler sprays and a kayak, although the kayak doesn’t have any water to make it move. Rounding out the backyard are two playhouses, garden hopscotch and a giant sand box with a partial canopy cover.
Thankfully, the saving grace came in the form of the art studio. The do-it-yourself studio is set up with a different project idea on each table. From watercolor painting to windsocks, a plethora of supplies are set up around the room. Various pieces and textures of cloths, egg cartons, greeting cards and paint supplies had my little artist in heaven. I think she made three different projects before I told her it was time to leave. Art smocks are ample and a giant sink is available to clean up messes.
Good to know
- The museum is open during the school year Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 5pm and on Mondays during major holidays. During the summer, they are open daily until 7pm.
- Admission is $8 per person and free for under age 1. During the school year, enter after 4pm, and pay just $4. AAA members receive a $1 discount. Keep your receipt so you can leave and return the same day.
- On the third Friday of every month from 5 to 7:30pm its Target Family Night where admission is $1 per person.
- There is a separate $2 fee to ride the carousel. Parents can stand for free.
- Lockers are available to store items along with a coat rack. Strollers are permitted or you can rent one from the front desk.
There is a museum shop, restrooms with changing stations and koala care seats for infants. While there is no cafe, there is a vending machine filled with healthy snacks and drinks. There are tables and high chairs inside and also a covered picnic area out front (adjacent to the water play area).
While the museum states it’s geared toward birth through age 10, my five year old lasted 45 minutes and found little to peak her interest. I wouldn’t have been so disappointed except the admission fee is high for what the museum is offering. Even with a private birthday being held in another room, the museum was pretty empty. The museum has another location in Short Pump, but judging from the masses, it’s not worth a visit.