If you’re looking for an interactive museum experience the whole family will enjoy, head over to The Morris Museum, located in a quiet residential neighborhood near Morristown’s historic district. While smaller and simpler than a big city institution, the museum, housed in an old mansion, features an eclectic showing of family-friendly exhibits. My family recently visited the museum for the first time, and we’re all looking forward to a return visit; the dollhouse collection, musical instruments and brand new Family Discovery Center were big hits with my kids. Aside from hands-on exhibits, the museum also features a gift shop, children’s theater and various programs and events. Morris Museum is #61 on our list of 100 Things to Do in NJ with Kids.
Check out the fun at the Morris Museum:
If you haven’t checked out the Mega Model Trains spectacular, climb aboard soon. The 288 square foot interactive display closes in March. The kids will love playing engineer and pressing the buttons. Adjacent to the trains is the Museum Mind Benders puzzle stations and the Brick by Brick Legos displays, also closing next month. My young doll collectors especially enjoyed vintage dollhouse exhibit, which includes one to play with. This runs through late March.
Coming this spring, explore the magical world of magic in Now You See It: The Art of Magic and Illusion. Visitors will have the chance to experience illusion first-hand and learn how magic tricks impact our perceptions. Plus, examine magician’s accessories up close. If the kids are fascinated by outer space, they’ll enjoy another upcoming exhibit, Earth from Space. This traveling exhibition features large color reproductions of images captured by high-tech satellites that circle the globe.
Follow the paw prints to the Dinosaur Den, where young dinosaur enthusiasts become paleontologists, creating dinosaur track rubbings, examining fossils and sitting in a dinosaur nest. If you miss out on the Mega Model Train display, don’t worry- there is still plenty of train-playing opportunity Model Trains and Railroad exhibit. My kids were intrigued by the large model train which travels through a small town. There’s also a train table to play with.
Tucked behind the Bickford Theatre is the intriguing Musical Machines & Living Dolls exhibit, a big hit with my girls. After exploring the hands-on display of 18th and 19th century musical instruments, we spent quite a while in the workshop area, where visitors can create tunes on a 19th century music box cylinder. “Happy Birthday” was our song of choice. The room also features puzzles and a jukebox. The lower level of the museum houses the brand new Family Discovery Center, where my kids could have spent the whole afternoon. The colorful space contains engaging puzzles, games and books to entertain young visitors, as well as seating for exhausted grown-up patrons.
Other traditional-type of museum exhibitions you’ll want to check out include Rocks and Minerals, Mammals, with a giant bear, and the American Indian collection.
Located in the museum, The Bickford Theatre boasts plays and concerts throughout the year and is home to a wonderful children’s theater with family-friendly performances. Coming up in March is Seussology, as part of the Dr. Seuss Family Festival.
Special Events and Programs:
The Morris Museum hosts several family festivals during the year. On March 7th, celebrate everything Dr. Seuss at the Dr. Seuss Family Festival, in honor of the renowned author’s birthday. Festivities will include Seuss-related crafts, games, Oobleck-making and a performance of Seussology in the theater. Visit the museum on a Saturday for Super Science Saturday, where kids can participate in hands-on science workshops.
The children’s art studio offers ongoing creative classes for school-age kids. Plus, sign up for children and teen vacation day workshops on days off from school. And for the little ones, stop by the museum on select Fridays every month for Tot Tours, with projects for 2-5 year olds and their caregivers.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am-5pm. See website for regular admission prices. The following discounts are available. The second and third Thursday of every month offers “pay as you wish” from 4-8pm. If you have a Bank of America card, admission is free on the first weekend of every month. Free passes are also offered through some libraries. Programs and events, as well as theater tickets, require additional fees.