My family and I visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Halifax Waterfront, to see what it had in store for the Halifax March Break. We came away very impressed. This year, the Maritime Museum has really “pushed the boat out” with its Steampunk-inspired exhibit, 20,000 Leagues Under the Museum!
Although it’s one of our favourite museums, The Maritime Museum can sometimes be a little tricky for toddlers, with several staircases, lots of “no go” places, and some relatively dreary exhibits, like sobering stories of shipwrecks and model boats in glass cases. You know – stuff you can’t play with or climb on.
But this March Break, the museum has worked really hard to create a child and toddler-friendly experience, with plenty of wonderful, simple hands-on activities.
On the main floor, we found thee SS Gully, an interactive “drive the boat” experience, with lots of fun buttons and knobs to push, and some cool sound effects. It was great. Next to that, a carpeted wall mural, with sticky velcro sea animals. Finally, dominated by a giant octopus, the Shipwreck SS Lunn: a small play area where kids can climb some rigging, supervised by parents. In the large main atrium (The Museum calls this the Small Craft Gallery), there were some well-equipped craft stations. On the day we visited, my daughter made an easy porthole craft using a plate, tin foil and pipe cleaners.
Also in the Small Craft Gallery, we found Stories of the Seven Seas: a large carpeted area with several oversized plush toys, nautical-themed puppets and vinyl bouncy things. Everything looked brand new. There were some very comfortable chairs dotted around the area for parents to relax, and a table with several books, including several with arabic translations! Best of all, this area prevented my little sailor from crawling under the boats – his usual trick.
Upstairs, guarded by a fez-wearing curator, was Curator Christo’s Curio Cabinet: a fairly anticlimactic “what’s behind the curtain” experience. (What was behind the curtain? Just some typical, museum-style artefacts such as animal skulls and shark’s teeth!). Much more exciting for our family was the opportunity in the Days of Sail Gallery to try on a variety of Jules-Verne inspired costumes, from scuba gear to pirate-wear! My two year old son spent a long time in the costume area, playing angry pirate. Who doesn’t love dress up?
There are lots of other things going on at the Museum: the opportunity to learn morse code, our old friends Theodore Tugboat, Merlin the talking Parrot and that classic attraction: the magnificent lighthouse lamp! After our visit, we refreshed our spirits with a brisk walk along the Halifax Harbourwalk – another one of our favourite family activities.
The March Break exhibit, 20,000 Leagues Under the Museum runs from March 12th-20th, 2016 and we highly recommend it!