Delaware Children's Museum: Wizard of Oz Exhibit Review

My tornado of a family recently landed at the Delaware Children's Museum in Wilmington to check out The Wizard of Oz Children's Educational Exhibition. Created by the Miami Children's Museum and licensed by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the Oz exhibit opened at the DCM on Sept. 28 and will stay put through Jan. 26, 2014.

Upon entering, we were met with a gorgeous reproduction of Judy Garland's ruby slippers from MGM's Wizard of Oz. This was especially thrilling for my Oz-obsessed 4-year-old, ML, who went in costume and could not stand still with the Oz exhibit in sight from the main entrance.

At the start of the exhibit, the kids got to discover Dorothy's farm in an interactive setting, with a farm animal sound station, a chicken coop and a walk-through house. The farmhouse featured a tilted floor, a mirror, crooked frames on the wall that you could
push back and forth and, most importantly, the huge window that looked out on the tornado. ML had a blast standing on one side of the window, opposite her brother, while both turned the wheels on the wall as fast as they could to make the tornado spin (an optical illusion). All four kids spent a ton of time in the house, pushing and pulling whatever they could find to give the illusion of being inside a tornado.

On the other side of the farmhouse, we could see the various parts of the exhibit spread out through the room. Of course, the kids wanted to go in the order of the movie scenes, so we started to explore in Munchkinland. ML loved the huge numbered blocks that many kids were already busy constructing a rainbow out of (keystone arch building technique).

There was a Munchkin voice changing station where the kids could speak into a microphone and their voice sounded like a Munchkin. On the other side of the exhibit, there was a highly entertaining and larger version of this but using the Wizard's voice. So no . . . this is not a quiet exhibit by any means. In fact, you'll hear familiar songs like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and Oz-friendly music throughout the exhibit. 

The kids crawled through a haunted tunnel "cave" into the Enchanted Forest and then to the Crossroads, where we took turns building the faces on scarecrows with Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and
Tin Man nearby. The kids brushed the lion's mane, rode the wicked witch's bike. ML was ecstatic to see that part of the exhibit featured Glinda the Good Witch (her favorite), where she could build her sparkly crown.

Then we discovered the wicked witch's castle. Kids could climb every part of it to reach the broom in the center, where a button set off music, lights and sound. The witch's crystal ball sat off to the side, where the kids learned how to create the illusion of their faces being inside the ball. 

The final section of the exhibit included the Emerald City's Horses of A Different Color, kaleidoscope and prism stations and more. The kids ran back and forth between all parts of the exhibit once we'd seen it all. (We even came back later on and did the whole thing over again).

After our first thrilling visit to Oz, we still had an entire museum to explore and a class in kid-friendly meteorology to take. We decided to head over to the classroom first, and take a rest. Actually, we kept quite busy there too. We met museum employee Meghan, our guide into the world of meteorology. We explored fake snow, made leaf rubbings, built a list of weather words, built our own tornado tubes to take home and we made lightning in our mouths. Yes, in our mouths. At the finish of the class, all the kids gathered together with Meghan and created their own thunderstorm using shakers, tin foil pans and flashlights.

I totally loved how the meteorology session connected back to the Oz exhibit with the tornado and storm themes. It didn't occur to me until then how much weather was actually a part of the Wizard of Oz. Storms, tornadoes and wind, oh my!

The rest of the museum still awaited. The kids and I journeyed through science, a fitness area and then into television, through a construction zone and building stations, through an environmentally friendly cabin and play area. My 4-year-old lil' man found heaven in a kid-sized train station and car repair shop. Then the kids reminded me all about budgets, just before I turned around and bought the entire collection of Oz toys in the gift shop, of course. Apparently Mommy wasn't paying attention.

We could have easily spent the entire day at the Delaware Children's Museum. The kids never would have stopped exploring and playing if I hadn't rounded them up in time for the second half of the Ravens game. There were activities for every age, and the variety of themes kept everyone from my 4-year-old to my 8-year-old (and two in between) constantly engaged.

EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post is adapted from her blog, Four Little Monsters, at 

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