Omaha Children's Museum

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Finn
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Omaha Children's Museum

Postby Finn » Mon Apr 04, 2005 1:22 am

New design has kids in mind

BY JANE PALMER
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Out with the old. In with the new.

The Omaha Children's Museum plans a multimillion-dollar redo of the interior of its downtown building.

The museum completed a master plan for the next decade that includes a two-phase plan for renovations.

Sketches for the first phase show a whimsical first floor with activity areas emphasizing science, the arts and humanities. Work would begin on the first floor in 2006 and be completed in 2007. The museum would remain open while changes are made.

Ideas for the second phase focus on the second floor, which currently hosts traveling exhibits. The plan calls for permanent interactive displays on topics related to health, technology, construction and Omaha as a transportation hub. A skywalk on the second floor would take advantage of the extra-high ceilings.

Lindy Hoyer, executive director of the museum, said the new master plan gives the museum a unified appearance, as well as activity areas that relate to one another. Current exhibits, which were created piecemeal over the years, look unrelated.

And most exhibits are due for replacement, Hoyer said. Hands-on, interactive exhibits for children typically wear out in five to seven years. Most of the museum's materials have exceeded that life span, she said.

The museum's new master plan incorporates suggestions from the community, Hoyer said. Museum staff and board members visited children's museums in such cities as St. Louis, Indianapolis and Chicago to look for ideas. Three consultants who have worked on children's museums in Lincoln and other cities also worked on the plan.

With the plan in place and sketches finished, attention now shifts to drawing detailed plans for builders, selecting materials and estimating costs for the first floor, Hoyer said.

When cost estimates are tallied, the museum will announce a fund-raising campaign for the first floor, Hoyer said.

Work at the museum will proceed in stages, one area at a time, Hoyer said. While the creative arts area is under construction, for example, art activities would be moved to another part of the museum. As workers complete a new exhibit, it would open for public use.

The new activity areas will encourage play and exploration, Hoyer said.

"This place really is meant to be enjoyed and used by children," she said. "Children need places where there are basic materials and basic cues. Their imaginations take them where they want to go.

"The longer we can keep them using their imaginations, the smarter they will be, they will have greater confidence in themselves and they will be fearless when it comes to trying new things and exploring."

Joe Seda, museum board president, said: "I see the museum playing an even greater role in the lives of Omaha children and visitors to the area, making Omaha Children's Museum the place that visitors think about when they think about Omaha."

Hoyer says that growing public interest in the museum makes this the right time to redo the museum.

Attendance nearly doubled in recent years, from 105,912 in 2001 to 189,007 in 2004. The number of family memberships also is up, from 2,405 in 2001 to 4,309 in 2004.

Concepts for Omaha Children's Museum
Phase one, first floor

Performing arts theater with a marquee and flexible performance space

• Creative arts area with a studio for an artist-in-residence

• Invent it zone, with Leonardo da Vinci theme, to encourage kids to design their own inventions with raw materials

• Gravitron, currently at the museum, expands to illustrate principles of gravity, vacuum and hydraulics

• Science stage for demonstrations and audience participation

• Infant-toddler space featuring different surfaces for crawling and cruising
Inventor's workshop for tinkering with gadgets and building

• Crane with levers, gears and other mechanical devices

• Fire-rescue truck in a town square setting that includes water play

• Grocery store on a child's scale

• Farm with a silo for climbing and full-scale models of farm animals

• Family room with rocking chair, microwave oven and semiprivate nursing room

• Driveway on 20th Street closes and becomes a pedestrian walkway; parking lot entrance moves to St. Mary's Ave.

jsheets
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Postby jsheets » Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:06 am

Why not move down into the old Market, or along Gene Leahy mall? I would love to take my daughter to the museum during a walk through the market and a stroll to the slides in the park, but instead I have to load up the car and drive those extra blocks.

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Postby Raraavis » Mon Apr 04, 2005 1:58 pm

It's 6 blocks from the Old Market. It's location is fine. What we need is development between it and the other parts of downtown so there aren't dead zones between one attraction and another.

jsheets
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Postby jsheets » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:05 pm

It's much more than 6 blocks from the Gene Leahy mall slides, and Heartland of America park. Try walking with a young one between there, and let me know when they start yelling about their legs hurting.

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Postby Coyote » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:45 pm

The museum is on 20th and Howard. Yes the Old Market ends on 13th St.
It would be 6 blocks depending where you parked.
But I agree, taking kids up those 6-9 blocks would take a bit of patience.
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Postby Blazepaw » Mon Apr 04, 2005 6:50 pm

The Children's Museum is located at 20th and Howard St. so it corresponds with the YMCA at 20th and Howard St., The Rose Theater for Young People at 20th and Farnum St. and The Joclyn Art Museum at 24th And Dodge.

There are plans to unite the area as an arts district. On a north - south line along 20th St.

Some of the plans are on the Omaha by Design Website.

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Postby DTO Luv » Mon Apr 04, 2005 7:50 pm

That sounds like a good idea.
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Postby DMRyan » Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:51 pm

Anyone have any photos of this building? I couldn't find it in the gallery section.
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Postby DMRyan » Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:52 pm

Whoops, nevermind.

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Postby eomaha » Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:17 pm

Talk about small town thinking... did Chicago move the museum of science and industry north so it could be within walking distance of the other museums? No... they have shuttle buses/circulators to get you there. We've got a great center of activity in the Old Market... why stop there?

The Children's Museum is an anchor in the Drake Court/Liberty Elementary area. Let's continue to let these pockets develop their own unique draws and allow vibrance to permeate throughout the downtown district, not just the Old Market.

As for getting around... our residential boom may be the ticket to getting us a circulator which runs beyond just the week day rush.

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Brad
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Postby Brad » Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:39 pm

There is really nothing between the childrens museum and DTO. In High School(not quite ten years ago) my group designed a "film instutite next to the childrens museum. I think that if you could just get one more attraction next to the museum, the whole area would take off.

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Postby DTO Luv » Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:51 am

Since there are lots of children oriented places in this area maybe they could put in some more rowhouses for families on that empty spot near the YMCA near the Fed. Reserve and in that area.
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Postby jsheets » Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:57 pm

Small town thinking, jhuston? I really take offense to that.

I'm merely trying to make it as popular as the Children's Museum in Lincoln. Have you seen it, and it's great location? We're not exactly building something as high of quality (or size) as the Science Center in Chicago, so that comparison is not even relevant. The new Science Center in Des Moines is also much better than anything the Children's museum would be. I think this is a case where we look to Lincoln for an answer (I haven't said that much in my life).

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Postby eomaha » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:24 pm

I'm not sure the Lincoln childrens museum has ever drawn more than the Omaha Children's Museum ( http://info.neded.org/stathand/msect4c.htm ).

And I wasn't trying to suggest that it is or should be made on par with the Museum of Science and Industry... or even Des Moine's Science museum (of course we are talking a considerably narrow focus here, in terms of a childrens museum) ... rather just keep it where it's at... and build on it where it sits (as is being done). It's a big asset to this area... so in need of a draw. And obviously the location isn't hurting it's appeal... given the enormous increase in attendance it has seen (40+% in attendance and 55% in memberships in 3 years?!).

As for small town thinking... lighten up sheets. :P

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Postby mchine73 » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:36 pm

I definitely think that the museum should stay put. It's a massive part of the 20th St. arts corridor Lively Omaha was proposing and the 20th and Leavenworth neighborhood. Plus as DT continues to fill in these independent districts will become much more vibrant.

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Postby eomaha » Tue Apr 05, 2005 11:03 pm

Precisely.

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Postby eomaha » Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:57 am

A pretty extensive summary of new interactive museum exhibits... impressive...

http://www.ocm.org/masterplan/main.htm

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Postby Blazepaw » Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:07 pm

There is no moving The Rose Theater nor the Joclyin...

As a city we should support the 20th St. plan.

Look to the West, South and North for more opportunities to expand our downtown.

We have a stretched out skyline along Dodge street....

Centered as it is on Howard St.

Let's see what we can pull of to the west at least.

It might be low rise but I think it's healthy to spread out the growth.

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Postby Stargazer » Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:49 pm

Are the exterior updates (in front of the 20th Street entrance), which I just noticed, outside the Children's Museum new?  Or did it just take me this long to notice them?  I think I would have noticed this elaborate looking contraption thing before (I do see they were in the renderings which were available when this thread was started).

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Postby Brad » Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:53 pm

They have been working on the the building recently.  I noticed it, but for some reason I have never taken a picture.  Josh walks past it at least twice a day 5 days a week may be he could snap a picture.
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Postby DTO Luv » Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:23 pm

They've been working on it for quite awhile. They started after I moved down there. It looks much better now if they could only spruce up the side I have to look at.
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Postby GaryFL » Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:38 pm

jsheets wrote:It's much more than 6 blocks from the Gene Leahy mall slides, and Heartland of America park.  Try walking with a young one between there, and let me know when they start yelling about their legs hurting.


This is an area what MAT does a very poor job: moving people around downtown. They don't have sensible routes to move visitors among downtown locations, and when a route does exist it's not properly advertised.

Bus stop signage in the downtown area needs to be a lot more visitor-friendly. I know how to get to the Old Market from 20th street, but a visitor or West Omaha resident probably doesn't. They should have signs that say things like "service to Children's Museum and Rose Children's Theater, every 30 minutes 9 AM-5 PM, bus #10." Or the bus routing could be tied in with the map displays you see in the in the Old Market. That would improve visitorship, relieve parking stress, and save you from having to march the children six or more blocks.

There should be a constant circular route that connects the Old Market to other parts of downtown. I'd love to see an every-15-minutes type of thing that connects the Old Market (say 12th and Jackson) to 20th street, Leahy Mall, Doorly Zoo, the Iowa casinos, etc., plus Rosenblatt/Qwest Center when there's an event. I realize that hotel shuttles serve some of this purpose, but that's no help to locals who are just spending an afternoon downtown. Bus service downtown could be a lot better, and a lot friendlier.

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Postby Stargazer » Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:31 am

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Postby Brad » Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:57 pm

Thatnsk for the pictures Jeff, The enterance looks great.
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Postby Brad » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:46 pm

Interesting interview on Grow Omaha this past Saturday.  The Children's Museum is second only to the Zoo for attendance.

Here is the study they talk about.
http://www.ocm.org/Post/sections/192/Fi ... ct2010.pdf

The map they talk about is on page 11
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Re: Omaha Children's Museum

Postby skinzfan23 » Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:14 am

Omaha Children’s Museum adding Platte River-themed water table, interactive train depot

The Omaha Children’s Museum will unveil two new permanent exhibits May 28: a Platte River-themed water table and an interactive train depot.
The three-level Play Along the Platte River water table is modeled after the Platte River in Nebraska, and is twice as large as the current water table in the Imagination Playground.

Susie’s Station, on the second floor, is a 480-square-foot train depot with a 5-foot miniature train with a working fog light, mock smokestack and whistle, all aimed at sparking imaginative play.


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Re: Omaha Children's Museum

Postby skinzfan23 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:29 am

Omaha Children's Museum sees record attendance in 2016

A record number of visitors checked out the Omaha Children’s Museum last year, drawn by fresh exhibits and educational programs.

The museum, at 500 S. 20th St., attracted 316,915 visitors last year, up from 302,901 in 2015.

Museum attendance remained generally steady in the late 2000s, hovering at about 250,000 a year. It began rising in 2011, a couple of years after the museum began updating its exhibits more often and advertising that new approach, said Kim Reiner, a museum spokeswoman.

Omaha Children's Museum attendance

2016: 316,915

2015: 302,901

2014: 290,996

2013: 282,287

2012: 253,311

2011: 268,954


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