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7 coolest playtime museums around the world

 

Wikimedia/HstryQT/CC BY-SA 3.0 (image cropped)

Museums are great — you can learn about cool stuff and some exhibits even make you feel like you’re back in time, but have you ever wanted to just touch everything? Maybe you’ve even felt the urge to climb and crawl all over parts of the museum? Well your days of wishing and hoping are over because these museums actually encourage play, touch and exploration. You won’t be shushed at these fun (yet educational) spots!

The Strong National Museum of Play - United States

A city block recreated inside the museum with a toy shop and Big Bird poking out from a window

Photo by Peter C in Toronto Canada licensed CC BY 2.0

This museum is the only one around that is completely dedicated to play! Want to learn all about the ins and outs of your favourite video game? Or explore a mystery mansion and a detective office? You can do all that and then play with colourful dragons, a pumpkin-shaped carriage and a fairy tale castle! From the toys and books you love, to a kid-sized grocery store, post office and train ride — this museum has an exhibit for every kind of playtime activity!

Canadian Children’s Museum - Canada

The museum's recreated port and cargo ship with a painted blue sky above and lots of boxes to play with

Photo by Anson Chappell licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

Located inside the Canadian Museum of History, here you can take a hands-on trip around the world! At the beginning of your visit, you’ll be given a passport to get stamped at over 30 exhibits. There’s a pyramid with hieroglyphics to decode and a secret passage to explore, a ship and port where you can try out different knots, an international market where you can bargain and trade with vendors and so much more. And a new exhibit lets you use big foam blocks to construct anything you want!

Eureka! The National Children's Museum - England

The outside of the museum where there's a giant sandbox and a colourful Eureka! sign

Photo by Craig Spence licensed CC BY 2.0

You’ll have your pick of stuff to touch and explore at this museum since it has over 400 hands-on exhibits — that’s a lot to play with! In their All About Me exhibit, you can learn about health while climbing inside a giant mouth and even up into a huge nose. Then you can try out the mini town, where you can run the bank or visit the shops, before discovering an indoor desert. And for those of you that want to make some noise, there’s even an exhibit where you can drum, dance and shout!

Seoul Children’s Museum - South Korea

A big screen with a mountain and colourful animals in a room with clouds, fake grass with a hill and even more mountains

Photo by Republic of Korea licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Surrounded by Seoul’s Children’s Grand Park — a space with gardens, hiking trails, a zoo and an amusement park — this museum is in the ideal spot to get your play on! Here you’ll find a Smile Theatre, where everyone’s selfies are displayed on a giant screen, and a runway ready for you to dress up and show off traditional Korean outfits. You can also board a spaceship and explore the universe, and climb on giant worms in the nature zone. Don’t forget to check out the exhibit dedicated to your five senses, where you can definitely touch everything!

Manitoba Children’s Museum - Canada

A colourful room with a big blue tent to play in and an actual giant yellow train

Photo by Robert Linsdell licensed CC BY 2.0

This museum’s building is the oldest train repair facility left in all of Manitoba, so that explains the big train in the middle of it all! But the train fun doesn’t end there — in the Engine House you can pull and press all the levers, pulleys, gears, buttons and bells you want. This museum even encourages you to play with your food with their giant lasagna you can crawl through, complete with a spaghetti forest and ravioli pillows! And don’t forget to check out the Mellow Marsh where you become the size of a bug surrounded by enormous flowers and leaves.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis - United States

A big dinosaur breaking through one of the museum's walls

Photo by David Ellis licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the largest children’s museum in the world, you’ll have to watch for dinosaurs because they’re poking through walls, windows and even the main entrance! Here you can discover ancient mysteries by going into an Egyptian tomb or excavating China’s Terracotta Warriors. There’s also a real archaeologists’ lab where you can watch experts uncover artifacts! Then suit up in astronaut gear in the new space exhibit where you can practice your universe-exploration skills.

Western Development Museum - Canada

The working steam train at the History of Transportation branch making its way down the track to the station

Ho - Moose Jaw Western Development Museum/Canadian Press

While this isn’t technically a playtime museum, its exhibits are made for exploring! The museum is made up of four different branches, and in 1910 Boomtown you get to explore an indoor town from over a hundred years ago. There are old cars and a steam train to climb in, a newspaper office with a working printing press and you can even see what the inside of a jail cell looks like. And in the museum’s History of Transportation branch, there’s a working train you can ride in!