The Brisbane Museum I am talking about is better known as the Queensland Museum and this is a review of it since its 2011/12 renovation. I call it a review, because I took along my three kids- Jack who is 5, Tom who is 2.5 and Summer who is 10 weeks.
Is it Child Friendly?
I was impressed that every single exhibition had something child-friendly to offer. We are talking buttons, or puzzles or a massive tree representing mangrove roots that my boys remained in for at least 5 minutes. There were microscopes with childproof slides and live snakes to view through glass.
The main child-friendly areas are on the main floor and underground in the Playasuarus area. If you head along the main floor to the end you will see the dinosaur section with part of it cordoned off and fitted with an oversized mirror allowing Brisbane Kids to be able to try on dinosaur tails and roar into the mirror. There are activity tables with drawing materials and those cool displays that allow children to put their heads into and get photos taken as dinosaurs. There is also a video machine inside of the room playing a doco that my master 5 loved! Master 2.5 at this stage was more in awe of the huge dinosaur skeleton in front of him. The Playasaurus area is downstairs and it consists of HUGE dinosaurs, lots of seating, an outdoor theatre and lots of buttons and things for kids to push and pull. My advice would be to pack a picnic lunch and end up here.. It is cool, shaded and there is only one exit- so you can sit and have your lunch and pretty much be able to relax while your Brisbane Kid explores.
Is it Fun?
My 5-year-old has not stopped talking about his visit to the Queensland Museum. He spent the whole time as he walked around yelling at the top of his lungs ‘Wow look at this!!!!’ As I semi-told-him-off a man reminded me that the kids were getting high on knowledge and that I should not want to suppress that. He was right. My 2.5-year-old was just as impressed especially by all the specimens of snakes and birds.
The Museum is clearly not a Playcentre.. that said why would you want it to be? Its enjoyment is in the conversation with your kids, learning of new words and discovery of unknowns. I enjoyed slowing down, taking the time to delight in their responses to seeing things they had never seen before. We plan to make this a monthly mission because I honestly believe that the Museum has managed to make learning fun and easy for parents to participate in.
How to make the most of it
Go with the intention to have a day out where you and your Brisbane Kids take your time, to peruse, to learn, to question, to answer, to spend time together… Pack a picnic lunch to save money.. When you revisit perhaps you can go with questions prepared or certain animals to find.. this is learning at its core.. It was one of the most rewarding and authentic days out I have had with my kids in a while.
How to get there…
You could catch public transport, a citycat, bus, train.. they all go here but we drove and paid $15 for all day parking. The last thing to think about is location because you could make a really FULL day of it given the Museum is surrounded by child-friendly places including GOMA, The State Library and Southbank.
When you enter the Queensland Museum you are greeted by a nice foyer, bare and welcoming.. a chance to regroup before entering the public arena. The Museum shop is close by, and offers some amazing goodies, for every budget. From dinosaur figurines to books right through to activities involving digging fossils from plaster. There is a coffee place just outside with some cool and hot drinks, muffins, sandwiches and very basic snack foods.
The parenting room is the best I have seen in a long time with a generous change table, clean surfaces and a heating steriliser for bottles. The other toilets are also as clean as a whistle.
Overall I really enjoyed our visit to the Queensland Museum. We are so lucky to have a free service like this available to us in Brisbane, I am constantly surprised at the number of parents and kids that have never been. Go with the intention to be thirsty for knowledge, from the perspective of a child and you will have a great time!