My two boys, ages 5 and 9, are at a stage where anything with the word LEGO in it is an immediate draw. So we day-tripped it to Baltimore, lucked out with four-hour metered parking, and charged right up to the third floor of Port Discovery Children’s Museum for a new temporary exhibit, LEGO Castle Adventure.
First, this is not a huge exhibit. It takes up two areas of one floor (and we almost overlooked the second area so make sure you seek out both parts). That said, my family spent almost two hours checking things out. Thankfully, there are lots of interactive aspects (including the opportunity to build with LEGOS, Duplos, and giant bricks). And I was surprised by how informative parts of the exhibit are, with replicas of real castles and labeled architectural techniques in several places.
We started in the main part of the exhibit, just off the elevator, where a life-sized LEGO knight is stationed. We checked out a small room for pretend play and photo ops, with a throne and dress-up outfits (we skipped the headgear due to my lice paranoia). Depending which way you exit through the room’s curtains, you’ll find a skeleton behind bars or a LEGO treasure chest, crown, and sword.
We next checked out some behind-glass LEGO models of real castles, including Ireland’s Blarney Castle, England’s Arundel Castle, and Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. A nice feature of these was little discs at the bottom that kids can turn to make the models spin for 360 views.
Nearby, my older son and husband suited up in the two foam horse-and-lance getups and charged at each other. It wasn’t until later that we realized they were supposed to be targeting plastic flags nearby, not each other — whoops!
Two computer-based modules were next up. Expect a wait. The one that allows you to move individual bricks and parts on the screen to design a castle could have been occupied by my son for a good half hour but I shooed him off after 10 minutes to give someone else a turn. The simpler catapult station allows kids to design a fortress wall on screen (with only a few choices so it goes quickly) and then pull a large plastic adjacent catapult to see how their design would hold up.
As my boys hit the huge climbing centerpiece in the museum (KidWorks), I noticed the LEGO exhibit’s second area, on the opposite end of the third floor. The main attraction here is the three large tables with containers of LEGOs for free building. Just nearby is a toddler area with softer giant bricks for little ones. My kids also liked the large LEGO dragon model in this area. And we had a lot of fun with a station behind the dragon that has parts with words and pictures to spin to create a story. Two small tables nearby with magnetic knights and dragons might also help with entertaining toddlers while older kids are in the choking hazardous LEGO zone.
Eventually we were all ready to leave the LEGO area for exploring the rest of the museum. At one point we stopped in the Studio Workshop area and discovered that the three free art projects for the day were all LEGO themed. We decorated a LEGO minifigure mask and made a glow-in-the-dark minifigure head out of a plastic cup, paint, and glitter. I was told the projects change roughly monthly, so it’s worth popping in to see if there’s something your kids want to make.
LEGO Castle Adventure is open through Sept. 20, 2015. Check the museum’s website for special events happening during the exhibit: https://www.portdiscovery.org/calendar/events.
For more info on the museum’s other offerings and the lowdown on food and parking, read the Our Kids review: https://our-kids.com/Review/4479.
Photos by Kathleen Seiler Neary.