Please Touch Museum
October 15, 2008
Please Touch Museum
Please Touch Museum caps a 32-year growth spurt and an $88 million restoration of a National Historic Landmark when it opens its newly renovated and expanded museum at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park on Saturday, October 18, 2008. The new museum, housed in the last major building remaining from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, offers a huge array of interactive, hands-on learning opportunities for little ones and their families. New exhibits, some old favorites, a collection of Philadelphia Childhood Treasures and a fully refurbished, century-old Dentzel Carousel join together with Memorial Halls rich history and architecture to create a unique family destination that resembles a majestic storybook castle. The new museum features six new exhibit zones: Roadside Attractions takes off with the theme of transportation. Kids can work on an engine, inflate the tires and fill up the gas tank of a real, full-sized automobile, or design their own fantasy car. A visit isnt complete without a ride on the much-loved SEPTA Bus, a classic of Please Touch Museum.
Flight Fantasy lets kids think theyre in outer space. Using their own bodys energy, children can pedal a propeller bike that powers a track of flying toys, play hopscotch on clouds, and learn about aerodynamics by creating and launching flying machines of their own design.
City Capers offers a realistic urban environment with buildings from Philadelphias skyline, a shoe store and medical center, and other neighborhood activities. The beloved Supermarket is back with shopping carts and food packages for kids to stock up on their favorite groceries or check out customers by tapping on ringing cash registers.
Wonderland brings families into the land of imagination with a magical trip down the rabbit hole. Kids can weave through a circular maze and find their way out of the Hall of Doors and Mirrors. Sit down for a cup of tea with the Mad Hatter, play croquet with the Queen of Hearts, or join the Dodo for a wild caucus race.
River Adventures has a huge new water play table where kids can create river currents, build and race boats and explore science, nature and weather. In the Rainforest Rhythm area, children create music with nature-inspired instruments.
Centennial Exploration is the place where history comes alive as visitors step inside Please Touch Museums bustling 1876 train station. The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 was the first major worlds fair to be held in the United States, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Visitors can view the Centennial Fairgrounds Model built in 1889, depicting the 200 buildings erected for the Worlds Fair. Kids can dress up in clothes from the era and play with the inventions (like the telephone and typewriter) unveiled in 1876.
A Monument to Play
As visitors enter the Great Hall, they encounter a life-sized, 40-foot replica of the Statue of Libertys Arm and Torch created out of toys, games and other found objects, gathered and assembled by Philadelphia artist Leo Sewell. The subject matter holds a special place in Memorial Halls history: The original Statue of Liberty Arm and Torch was displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition as part of a fundraising effort. Classic toys like a Sit N Spin and Barbie are joined by action figures, license plates bearing the logos of Philly pro sports teams, skis, and Phillys favorite fighter, Rocky Balboa.
A Restored 100-year-old Carousel
Housed inside a 9,000-square-foot addition is the fully restored Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel, which originally operated at a Philadelphia amusement park less than 10 blocks from Memorial Hall. The animal menagerie, which dates back to 1908, includes 40 horses, four cats, two pigs, two goats and four rabbits. It is illuminated by 1,296 light bulbs. The carousel had been in storage for more than 40 years and was once in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. The carousel is on long-term loan from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
A Collection of Philadelphia Childhood Treasures
The collection of more than 12,500 toys and games from 1945 to the present, is prominently displayed throughout the museum and offers families the opportunity for intergenerational learning and sharing of childhood memories. The museum also collects major pieces which reflect the history of childhood in Philadelphia. One such item is the Rocket Express, a kid-sized monorail that carried children above the 8th floor toy department at the famed local John Wanamakers department store from 1946 to 1984. Another is the set, costumes and video archive of the childrens TV show Captain Noah and his Magical Ark, which aired from 1967-1994. During the holidays, the museum displays the remaining 10 scenes of the Enchanted Colonial Village, which was displayed at Lit Brothers department store on Market Street, from 1962 to 1975.
Please Touch Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults and children age one and over. Museum members and children under one are free. On-site parking is available. Call 215-581-3181 or visit www.pleasetouchmuseum.org
Please Touch Museum
Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park
4231 Avenue of the Republic
(formerly North Concourse Drive)