The New Children’s Museum

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200 W Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
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Open:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday - Saturday)
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Sunday)
The New Children’s Museum isn’t your typical play-and-learn experience. The exhibits are carefully curated to inspire kids through artistic expression.
The New Children’s Museum
Hands-On Learning
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Play & Learn
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Tips

Hands-On Learning at The New Children’s Museum

If you’ve ever visited a traditional art museum with the whole family, there’s a good chance that your younger children may not have fully appreciated the experience. When you visit The New Children’s Museum, both you and the little ones will find plenty to enjoy. As an art museum that specifically caters to younger audiences, the museum aims to get kids and adults alike interested in art by turning the exhibits into engaging opportunities for art appreciation through play.

The Children’s Art Museum, located in Downtown San Diego near the Gaslamp Quarter, isn’t your typical child-friendly attraction. With thoughtful exhibits, experiential interactions, and creative installations, art becomes so much more than just something to hand on a wall and observe. The displays include auditory, visual, emotional, and tactile components, making them an immersive sensory experience sure to capture attention and delight visitors of all ages.

Unlike some art museums that focus exclusively on traditional art, The Children’s Art Museum also includes exhibits that show the best of what engineering, architecture, and virtual technology have to offer. By combining many different mediums and industries, the museum showcases the versatility of art and creates a more expansive, attention-grabbing experience.

Every aspect of the museum is dedicated to education through art integration, including its special programming and community outreach. Educators in the San Diego area rely on this attraction as a resource and a learning tool to engage students, both in and out of the classroom. Family workshops and other special events are hosted throughout the year, which strengthen the relationship between the museum and the San Diego community.

The museum’s installations are specifically tailored to cater toward all age groups, so there’s something fun for everyone to do, no matter how young or old. There are exhibits for school-age and older children, as well as exhibits that are appropriate for younger kids and toddlers. No matter the intended age group, all exhibits in the museum integrate art, imagination, and a touch of whimsy to capture kids’ attention and inspire a love of all things artistic.

Considering how diverse and fun the hands-on exhibits are, The New Children’s Museum is far from a one-and-done attraction. There’s always something new to see on return visits, and children will enjoy the experience so much they’ll be excited to visit again and again.

In addition to the museum exhibits, The New Children’s Museum includes an on-site café called Bean Sprouts. The café serves healthy snacks and light meals so museum visitors can grab a quick lunch and get right back to the fun. The museum also contains a gift shop with art supplies, games, toys, and trinkets to continue the fun and education at home.

The New Children’s Museum is one of the many attractions included in the Go San Diego Pass, which allows you to bundle different museums and other San Diego attractions together when you buy tickets. If you’re looking to save on your trip to San Diego, the Go San Diego Pass is the perfect option. Take advantage of our exclusive discount, which could help you save even more on your trip!

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Your Expectations Exceeded

The New Children’s Museum encourages exploration and engagement during every moment of your trip. To honor this approach, families can explore the museum in any order they see fit. Make a beeline for the Whammock! exhibit, or check out the Sandbox Gallery installation first—it’s your call!

When you visit the museum, you’ll see installations that showcase many different forms of art, including paintings, architecture, knitting, crocheting, sculpting, and much more. Just about every installation has an interactive component, whether this is an audio recording, an activity for kids to complete, something to climb on or crawl through, or a combination of these aspects.

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Virtual Opening
In 2020 the museum laid of dozens of employees in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum refocused on virtual offerings.

On top of the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts a different California-based artist each year to showcase the talent and creativity of those living in the San Diego area. Additionally, the majority of the exhibits in the museum were commissioned works from renowned local artists. They have a unique and personal charm you can’t find anywhere else.

Because the museum invites kids to play, on crowded days you may find the noise level around busy exhibits to be similar to a schoolyard playground or park. However, there are also plenty of quiet corners and rest areas you can use when you and the kids need a moment of calm.

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Exhibits and Activities for Discovery and Play

There are dozens of different installations at The New Children’s Museum, and there are new exhibits being added to the museum all the time. In fact, the museum’s name is actually in reference to the idea that there’s always something new for kids to experience. With the incredible diversity of exhibits offered by the museum, it’s clear just how true the museum’s name really is!

Wobbleland

Wobbleland is designed for kids four and younger. The exhibit is designed like a giant kitchen sink, complete with soft, human-sized food sculptures perfect for climbing over, hiding in, and stacking up. Through play, kids explore this world of giant food and larger-than-life fun.

Tikitiko

Tikitiko is an art installation made entirely of soft materials like yarn, wool, and faux furs. Kids are invited to practice their empathy skills by caring for replicas of fluffy, fuzzy creatures. Tikitiko is designed exclusively for kids three years old and younger.

Whammock!

This exhibit features a vibrant, unstructured, room-sized hammock. It has holes and ropes that encourage children to climb and crawl around. Whammock! is an elevated sensory play experience suitable for all ages.

The Rain House

The Rain House was one of the first exhibits ever opened at the museum, and it remains super popular to this day. Its playhouse design replicates what it’s like to play inside on a rainy day, complete with a tin roof and a sprinkler system to create the immersive rain effect.

No Rules… Except

“No jumping on the bed” is a common rule in many households. In this exhibit, the rule is completely flipped on its head. The room is filled with 40 mattresses and over 150 soft, tire-shaped pillows, and the exhibit invites kids and adults alike to bounce around to their hearts’ content.

The Wonder Sound

This exhibit is a climbable labyrinth with a historic and cultural influence. Natural scenic elements, neighborhood structures, and an original soundscape come together to inspire and intrigue. Kids can even learn to write their own name in a new language developed especially for the exhibit.

Sketch Aquarium

The Sketch Aquarium is an interactive art installation that helps your child’s imagination come to life. Kids can draw sea creatures and scan their drawings to see them digitally replicated in the exhibit’s virtual aquarium.

Sandbox Gallery

The Sandbox Gallery is an oversized version of a sandbox for kids to play in. Children can dig and sculpt in glittery sand, while ambient music creates a peaceful experience.

Desert Derby

This exhibit is perfect for lovers of cars and landscapes alike. It features play roadways through desert scenery as a way to showcase the marvels of modern engineering.

Reconnecting to Home

Reconnecting to Home is a four-story replica house where each story reflects a different architectural style. It invites kids to take a look at the history of architecture in an otherwise familiar setting. The different floors take inspiration from California culture and celebrate the simple joys of family and the feeling of being home.

Cash Machine

The Cash Machine is much more than a way for the museum to collect donations. Kids can watch as the money you donate navigates a maze of tubes, bells, and spinning objects in an intricate, carefully designed machine.

Interactive Art Studios

In the museum’s many art studios, kids are encouraged to make their own art. They can choose to replicate the styles and art pieces they’ve seen in the museum, or they can get the creative juices flowing and make something entirely new!

Each of the art studios offers kids a new medium to work with. They can sculpt clay, decorate a truck with paints, plant flowers, and engage in various other arts and crafts activities.

Additional Educational Opportunities for Kids

On top of the exhibits designed to cater toward kids, The New Children’s Museum has many educational classes and camps that continue to teach kids the value of art.

The museum ensures even the youngest of visitors can learn and play through its toddler classes. Every Friday morning is Toddler Time, which includes opportunities for movement, music, and socialization in a guided class structure and activities like finger painting and story time. The museum also hosts a Little Learners Club, which is a multi-week club that meets for creative classes such as music, art, yoga, and cooking.

Older kids up to Grade 6 are invited to attend the spring and summer camps that are offered by the museum. The camps include periods of classroom-style education followed by opportunities for play in the museum’s exhibits and in outdoor play spaces.

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Tips for the Best Possible Experience

To make your trip to The New Children’s Museum as fun-filled as possible, here are a few things to keep in mind before and during your visit.

The Best Days to Visit

Weekends are typically fairly crowded at the museum. If you want to have time to enjoy every attraction at your own speed, consider visiting on a weekday.

Parking

The museum offers paid parking in the museum garage. Museum members get 50% off the cost of parking.

Visit Length

There is plenty to do at the museum, so plan to spend at least two hours checking out the exhibits. This is about how long you will need to see everything without feeling rushed.

Suggested Attire

Kids can crawl, climb, and create at the different exhibits, which can get a little messy. Dress kids in clothes that will allow them to move comfortably and that can get dirty without being ruined. Wear comfortable shoes, as you will likely be on your feet for the majority of the trip.

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