As I’ve grown up, and settled in, quite comfortably, into the role of mother, I search for, encourage, and champion creativity in my life and in my children. I’m also a tech lover. You can take the girl out of silicon valley, but she’ll have microns embedded in her soul forever.
When I was invited to attend a blogger reception on behalf of Today’s Mama at the newly reopened, renamed, and re-imagined Children’s Creativity Museum (formerly Zeum) in San Francisco, I circled, starred, and highlighted the date.
The Children’s Creativity Museum is located on the Yerba Buena block in San Francisco. They are right behind the historic 1906 Children’s Creativity Carousel and next to an outdoor playground. If you’re like me, and you’ve attended SEMICON West, or other conventions at the Moscone Center, and hung out at the Metreon, the Yerba Buena block is a quick, few minutes walk from that hustle and bustle.
So what’s new? For someone like me, who has never been to this museum, everything. The re-engineered space now includes offerings for 3-5 year olds, in addition to providing continued opportunities for their core audience of 6-12 year olds. The imagination lab on the main floor is geared towards building, sculpting, performing, and creating. We spent the bulk of our time in the movie studio and animation studio.
I graduated with a broadcast journalism degree. I still remember the days of teleprompters, edit bays, b-roll, and script writing. Needless to say, I was thrilled my girls would get to try out what I used to dabble in.
My 7YO got down to business and chose to produce and anchor her own news story. She wrote about butterflies, chose the backgrounds, and then sat in front of the camera and read her story off the teleprompter. Did I mention? You get to take home a DVD of your production. Sweet!
The animation studio is a version of what I imagine you might find in a room at Pixar. I sat down with my husband and our kids and got our hands dirty creating with clay. My 7YO wanted to make minions, and my 5YO made Belle. Once your clay figures are complete, it’s time to pick a background, then the stop-animation begins.
They’ve made it easy to do create your own stop-animation movies. The cameras are set, and all you have to do is set your character(s) and press the space bar twice to record each movement. There are staff members who can help you if anything should go awry. When you’re all done, they email you your film. Yes!
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My 5YO wanted to sing, so we headed up to the music studio on the second floor. There kids can pick a song, a background to be imposed over the green screen studio, and watch themselves sing on a bank of monitors.
You can then take home a DVD of your performance. My 5YO dressed in a spider costume found downstairs in the Imagination lab. Unfortunately, when we tried to view the DVD at home, the audio didn’t work. I contacted the museum via the label on the DVD, and found out that the sweet girl that helped us record the music, didn’t get the audio track down. They apologized for the hiccup and are making sure all their teen technicians are properly trained. Trust me, it was adorable. I guess we’ll just have to go visit again. I can’t wait!
These activities are just snippets of what you can do at this museum with your children, or you can let them loose to create unique works of art, and ideas, all on their own.
That is the genius of the Children’s Creativity Museum. Audrey Yamamoto, the executive director, explained that there are a lot of discovery museums for kids, but at the Children’s Creativity Museum there’s a shift from a purely play-based environment to an environment of invention. In this museum they are moving children from passive media consumption, to active media creation.
As we left the museum I asked my daughters what they thought. My 5YO asked to return the next day. My 7YO said, “this is the best museum I have ever been to.” I could easily spend hours with my girls at this museum, then head outside to visit the gardens, playground and carousel. Did you know there’s also a an ice skating and bowling alley at Yerba Buena? I had no idea that this hidden gem in San Francisco, could be such a grand family destination.
Yamamoto closed our blogger reception with this quote from Goethe, “Whatever you do, or dream you can begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” The Children’s Creativity Museum let’s our children begin dreaming boldly. As a parent, watching them create is powerfully magical.
Guess what? You get a chance to win one family pass for four to the Children’s Creativity Museum. Simply visit the museum website and leave a comment telling us which exhibit you’re most interested in. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 18th.
The Children’s Creativity Museum is located at 221 Fourth Street, San Francisco, CA (Yerba Buena Gardens), and is open during the school year Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Mondays and Tuesdays. During the summer they are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed Mondays. Admission is $10 for adults and children, ages two and under are free. Donations are appreciated for any of the creations you decide to take home with you. Parking is available at the Yerba Buena Fifth and Mission Garage.
Annual memberships are available and can be purchased online. Admission for annual membership holders is free.
ps. If you’d like to see some of the videos I’ve mentioned above, you are invited to visit my YouTube channel.