Hats off to the Mill City Museum for going above and beyond simply keeping the kids in mind when they designed their space. After announcing to the preschooler that we were spending the afternoon at a museum she immediately demanded to know, “Is it a museum where we can touch things?”
And the answer is yes, child. A resounding yes. You and your sibs can not only get your little hands on the exhibits at Mill City Museum, but build, design, splash, taste and play with them. I wouldn’t be nearly so enthusiastic to take you if that were not the case.
Straight from my children (whom I’ve brought ages 0-1o years), here are the Top 10 kid-friendly activity picks at Mill City Museum:
1. Water play tables that demonstrate the river’s role in powering the early mills. Any museum that includes the chance to splash is an instant hit — thank goodness for the hand (and clothes) dryers.
2. A train play table gives kids a chance to simulate the path of flour from the farm to factory, then onto shipment down the river.
3. Kevin Kling’s Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat is a history lesson, sure, but it’s an entertaining one. The 4-year-old had no problem sitting through the film without much squirming.
4. The Baking Lab is always whipping up some tasty samples.
5. Play-Doh – yes, it’s usually a household staple, but at the museum there’s no need to clean up! Find it in the Baking Lab along with other hands-on activities.
6. Whip up a feast for the threshers’ dinner table using a wood-burning stove and mouth-watering props.
7. Design-your-own-cereal-box with felt scraps.
8. If weather permits, spend some time wandering the ruins of the Mill City Museum Courtyard. The indoor exhibits are built right into the remains of the Washburn A Mill, destroyed by fire in the 1960’s.
9. I debated adding the Flour Tower — a multimedia attraction that involves an 8-story elevator ascent. Most of my littles refused to ride it because there’s a simulated explosion during the show, but it’s a must-see for older kids and adults.
10. Once atop the museum, the view from the observation deck includes mill ruins, the Stone Arch Bridge, and the Falls that started it all.
Mill City Museum, 704 S 2nd St, Minneapolis
Hours: 10 am-5 pm Tues-Sat, Noon-5 pm Sun, open Mondays in July & August only
Admission: $12/adults, $10/seniors, $6 ages 5-17, MHS members FREE
Parking information here.