Toto, I don’t think we’re in New York anymore. For the first time ever the Wizard of Oz has been licensed for a traveling museum exhibit, and Oz has landed at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Kids, toddlers and parents can follow the yellow brick road to a land of hands-on activities, games and even a few science lessons based on the classic movie. Read on to find out what is in store for your munchkin.
The Oz exhibit is housed on the first floor of CMOM. It’s a big space for a big exhibit that has a lot to offer for all ages. I went with my toddler who was thoroughly amused for over an hour roaming around the different sections of Oz and trying all of the activities for his little hands. I also saw older children having a great time figuring out challenges and cool educational lessons aimed at their age group. Even the parents seemed to have fun recalling scenes and characters from the classic movie.
There is a lot to do when you step into Dorothy’s shoes and explore Oz at CMOM. Here are some of the highlights:
At Emerald City YOU get to be the man behind the curtain and control the Great and Powerful Oz yourself. This part of the exhibit has cool science lessons for older kids, but toddlers can have lots of fun pushing buttons and playing too. This area focuses on light, and how it can create special effects. Remember the rainbow colored horses in Oz? Don’t miss out on mixing colors to create a light show of different horse hues.
In another section you can follow the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy’s friends and end up at the Wicked Witch’s Castle. Here you'll find physical aspects mixed in with movie trivia and educational games. Are you brave enough to crawl through a dark tunnel with the Cowardly Lion? Can you build a rainbow out of giant soft blocks? At the castle there is a big climbing wall and slide. Or you can try to find apples on the ground under those big talking fruit trees.
Munchkinland and the Gale Farm are also interactive and great for all ages. You can dress the Munchkins and bang out songs on music tubes. See and hear different animals on the farm, keep your footing in Dorothy’s flying house and look at optical illusions at Professor Marvel’s wagon. Finally, what would Oz be without a tornado? Push a button and see it whirl up before your eyes.
While the exhibit is impressively put together, be realistic that it can quickly become a bit of a mess when a lot of kids are having fun there. For example, we couldn’t find the eggs to collect from the chicken coop at Gale Farm, because little hands had taken them over to the Castle to toss down the slide. If you’ve ever been to CMOM you know this is pretty much unavoidable. But it’s still lots of fun and you don’t have to feel bad when your child does some “rearranging” too.
The travelling Wizard of Oz exhibit will be in NYC from September 25, 2010 until May 8, 2011. CMOM will have extended hours on Saturdays from 10am - 7pm while its there. The museum will also be hosting a long list of special workshops and events on the Wizard of Oz theme. Munchkin Club Events are for kids 4 and under to make art projects like scarecrow puppets and giant paper lollipops. The Wizard Science Club for ages 5 and older will host science projects for older kids. Check here for a list of events including Halloween Festivities.
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is located at 212 West 83rd Street between Amsterdam and Broadway. *Note CMOM is closed on Mondays. Admission is $10 for children and adults. Check the website for information on buying memberships and to see if you may be able to get in free as a corporate member with a family work ID.
For other exhibit reviews see our Culture Guide.