11 Nicholson street,
The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery has only recently opened up at the Melbourne Museum and I have been dying to check it out. It’s open everyday and the new exhibit is permanent, so no need to rush through the doors to see it….it’s not going anywhere.
You start by entering the children’s gallery through a train tunnel, complete with lights and sounds… followed (obviously) by a train carriage to play in.
Now before we get much further I’m going to be honest, it was jammed packed busy today. Melbourne was 34°, and rainy so I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking the museum would be a great idea. I tried to take photos showing the museum as best I could but there were kids EVERYWHERE. We can only try…right? Anyway…moving on…
The first area you get to is the least exciting…although definitely fun too, just not as much sensory overload as the play areas that follow. It’s cleverly designed as a good warm up space, and as such was a bit less packed.
This shape sorter activity was very popular with new walkers all the way through to early primary aged children. Whenever you successfully “post”a shape, a funny noise is made. Missy Moo spent a long time on this one.
The second play space you get to contains many mirrors; regular ones, bendy ones and those wrapping around corners too. We spent a good bit of time here, as there is a lot going on. Heaps of spaces to climb, lots to look at in the unusual reflections, tunnels to crawl through and a few sensory things to touch and explore stuck on the walls.
The third and final place space is the biggest and is a pretty intense sensory overload, but my daughter wasn’t bothered by that (although I imagine some children might be). There’s a lit up dance floor, indoor play equipment, reading area, multiple puzzles, climbing ropes, cubby holes, interactive walls, and a few secret nooks. It is truly amazing!
The main piece of play equipment sits in the middle of the room and is elevated above some of the play areas. It’s a clever design and great use of space.
The good stuff.
Great for all ages.
This is definitely not something that you need to “wait until your kid is older” to go to – go whenever you have the chance, your child will enjoy it at any age. There are multiple fun-to-touch areas on the walls, and many little kid puzzles so even pre walkers would have a blast.
Love that the signs were in multiple languages include sign language. This felt really inclusive to me.
There’s a large baby room within the gallery complete with feeding rooms and toilets, the room was bright, spacious and clean. A small café sits at the entrance to the gallery also in case you need your caffeine fix.
Outside there is a very large picnic area for a BYO lunch. Plenty of spots to sit (despite being busy), lots of shade, a few pigeons to chase, and a some building activities for kids to enjoy while you are sipping down the coffee (bliss!).
Free for kids, $14 for adults. Pretty reasonable I think, especially considering that is the entire museum, not just the kids part.
There were lots of staff throughout the entire gallery….many answering queries of lost children (like I said, it was very crowded). But it was nice to have staff ready at hand if needed.
I really had a fun time. Now, almost certainly, a 2 year old would love this stuff…it’s a given. But I really love finding activities to do together that I myself enjoy too. I really had a lovely day out.
Areas for improvement….
As I said before, it was busy today. There were kids, prams and parents everywhere. This didn’t overly concern me, but I was a bit thrown that kids could easily escape from section to section. There were at least two ways into the gallery, and another two ways in and out of the outdoor space. I think if you had a few young children (twin toddler mums..I’m talking to you) it might be hard to keep your eyes on everyone. It’d be great if at the very start of the exhibit there was a big gate so children would at least be trapped within the enormous play space. Just my thoughts….
Parking at the museum is very expensive. 3 hours is $28! I found free parking a short walk away, and there’s some ticketed parking nearby also. Obviously if you can take public transport that’s your best option. I personally just can’t give up Missy Moo’s lovely car sleep on the drive home, so haven’t attempted the city via the train just yet.
It’s a con. I imagine this will improve in its own time, after all, it is still a very new play space for Melbournian kids. Next time I won’t visit in school holidays.
Want to get it cheaper?
Become a member! For $50 you can go as much as you like to the Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and to Scienceworks.
Want it cheaper than that?
Go get an education degree! Teachers must currently be employed in a Victorian kindergarten, school, TAFE, AMES, Adult Community and Further Education or University and show their VIT registration card. They get free entry year round to the three above mentioned museums.
Still want it cheaper but not a teacher? These cards give you to free entry too: Carer Card, Health Care Card, Pension Card, Student Card (Australian and International), Veterans Affairs Card, and All government-issued Seniors Cards (Australian and International). Just don’t forget your Photo ID.
Overall I give the museum a 10/10, as we could easily spend all day here a few times over…and that’s not including seeing the rest of the museum. By providing air con in Summer, heating in Winter, and partially covered outside space for year round use, the museum really sets itself apart as a great all weather place to visit. Add in multiple play opportunities that really grow with your child, a dance floor and close by coffee and I think you’ve got a winner.
I would highly recommend you check the children’s gallery out for your next adventure.
Have you checked out the new children’s gallery? What did you think? Leave a comment below or join in the conversation on facebook