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Please Touch Is the Motto at Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum

By Pamela Sosnowski

While most children's museums cater to kids of a certain age, MWV Children's Museum was designed for the youngest visitors in mind. The interactive museum encourages play and imagination.

Despite their name, most children's museums are only suitable for kids of a certain age, leaving the younger ones unable to touch and interact with most exhibits. Conway's Mount Washington Valley (MWV) Children's Museum, however, was actually designed for children from birth to age seven, with an emphasis on interactive play. At this museum, younger children are encouraged to touch, explore, create, and more throughout its two floors.

"The MWV Children's Museum serves very young children," states Kate Fowler, the museum's operations coordinator. "Children can climb an indoor treehouse, create a craft, explore outer space, prepare a pretend meal, lead a marching band, and more! We have over 20 different creative centers that focus on imaginative play."

A variety of themed playrooms give little ones a chance to dress up, pretend, climb, and explore a jungle environment, castle, underwater world, and more. There are giant rocking horses, oversized bulldozers to climb on, and a variety of games and toys throughout each area that are guaranteed to burn of energy while sparking the imagination.

"The decor and atmosphere is very creative," Fowler said. "Each room has a different theme and a home-like feel." The museum is also environmentally conscious, as nearly every item in it was recycled or repurposed.

Besides the exhibit areas, the museum also hosts regular special events such as its Friday morning Music for Kids hour, featuring local singer Sharon Novak, and its upcoming Fairy Festival to be held off-site at Cranmore Mountain Resort. This annual event includes a specially built fairy house, live music, food, craft vendors, and other attractions. During July the museum will also be partnering with the Conway Scenic Railroad for its Thomas the Tank Engine events which include an Imagination Station craft tent, manned by museum staff.

With so much to see and do at the museum, it should come as no surprise that it's become a popular venue for birthday parties. The all-inclusive birthday party package gives guests two hours' usage of the designated birthday room, juice, party snack mix, and a balloon for the birthday child. The staff can also work with parents to provide an imaginative game or idea to be enjoyed at the party, and will also assist with cleanup.

At $7.50 per person for children ages one and up, the museum's admission is very affordable but once parents and kids get a taste for everything it has to offer they usually opt for a membership. A membership gives a family unlimited admission to the museum for a one-year period.

"We had a very modest rate for our family memberships at $50.00 for the year," Fowler said. "This includes 2 adults and 4 children to come and play for an entire year." A lifetime membership is also available for $500.

Operational Hours are Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays, Mondays 10am-3pm, Saturdays 10am-5pm, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11am-2pm. A thrift store called Grandma's Cottage Closet operates on the premises and accepts donations of gently used women's and kids' clothing. Now open for over a decade, the museum hopes to continue its mission of building tomorrow's grown ups by providing opportunities for children and their caregivers to learn through play.

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