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Stretch your imagination with some unusual museums


    Kids can create skyscrapers and other towering structures with oversized blocks in the Big Build area at The Strong National Museum of Play.

Expand your mind and learn some new information by visiting a museum. Here are five to consider:

1. Museum of the West

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Your family can steep in the culture, history and art of the American West during a visit to this award-winning museum. From master potters to the unique stories of cowboy culture showcased on the silver screen, there is much to learn through interactive exhibits, scavenger and treasure hunts and multimedia kiosks. The museum recently premiered the photographs of Sen. Barry M. Goldwater. The Arizona Highways Collection showcases images captured by a man best known as a U.S. senator but widely respected as a gifted photographer. His images of the Grand Canyon and the native peoples of Northern Arizona offer a rare glimpse into the region’s history.


2. Museum of Clean

Pocatello, Idaho

It’s all about clean. But not just about how to tidy up your child’s room. We are talking clean language, a clean community and a clean (and green) world. Visit this museum to learn about the history of tools used to spruce things up. You’ll see nearly 1,000 vacuums and learn their how they developed over a century. Find out what it’s like to clean a chimney, as chimney sweeps once did. Learn lessons about waste from the “Texas-sized” trash can, check out the broom collection “swept in” from far and wide and visit the Garage to discover how clutter can affect the rest of our lives.


3. The Strong National Museum of Play

Rochester, N.Y.

Play is good for kids of all ages. You’ll learn about play and favorite pastimes in a permanent exhibit that explores 300 years of history. Visitors can view rare board games, see the world’s largest erector set, challenge your crew to a game of toy trivia and test your memories in the concentration game within a 100,000-square-foot fun zone. Play hopscotch, chess and checkers on Sesame Street, ride a carousel, hop aboard a train and check out the on-site National Toy Museum.


4. Delaware Children’s Museum

Wilmington, Del.

Stretch your child’s imagination by serving up science, math and technology in a creative space. In the “Bank on It” exhibit kids learn all about the currency, from planning and earning to spending and saving. Head to the Stratosphere to climb inside a 30-foot-wide structure overlooking the lobby. In the Tree Pavilion, you’ll find a 350-year-old sycamore, measuring 7-1/2 feet wide and tall and 21 feet long. The tree serves as a conversation starter about the importance of keeping things green.


5. Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine

Portland, Maine

This museum encourages collaborative play with your child. Head to the Dress-up Theatre and tell your own story, go the rescue in the firetruck and explore the Touch Tank together. Make time for the Farmers’ Market where budding math skills come into play. Capture the local vibe when you climb aboard a replica of a lobster boat. Learn how to haul in the traps, navigate your way to the Portland Harbor and discover the importance of the state’s fishing heritage. Become a ranger in the Ranger Station and identify native plants and animals.


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