Do children and museums mix? They do when it’s the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, a three-story building on Pittsburgh‘s North Side. The building connects historic buildings in the city: the Allegheny Post Office Building and the Buhl Building, and is adjacent to Buhl Community Park (more about that in a bit — first, the museum).
Museum Fun Inside and Out
The museum is divided into several interactive sections. The Garage houses a full-size replica of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Trolley – and a table with parts to make a much smaller version of the trolley. Fred Rogers’ legacy is felt throughout the museum. A Pittsburgh icon, he was involved with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh since its inception as an advisor, a mentor, and a friend.
The Studio is an interactive art area for kids of all ages. We saw kids gathered around a table making things with clay, a museum worker teaching a group of kids how to screen print, and kid-sized easels where children could finger paint or draw.
From the rotunda ceiling in the Studio hangs one of the musem’s most famous art installations: “More Light” by Dick Esterle (see photo).
Out the back doors of the Studio is the Backyard, where kids can swing on swings that activate music from the movement, climb up a clubhouse with solar panels on the roof that power its LED lights, and play in a huge sandbox.
My son and I spent about four hours at the museum, pausing for a quick lunch break in the Big Red Room Cafe, but could have spent much longer. We’re already thinking of our next visit, and considering bringing the kids’ grandparents with us as well. Throughout the museum we found small seating areas adjacent to or sometimes within the exhibit — a handy place not only for tired parents to sit down, but for grandparents who want to enjoy watching the little ones play but aren’t able to do so while standing for long periods of time.
Getting Wet at Buhl Community Park
Not to be missed is the adjacent Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square. The park opened in 2012 and is a beautiful green space to sit, enjoy a meal, or just let the kids run around.
But the best part of the park is “Cloud Arbor,” a piece of public art by Ned Kahn. Sixty-four innocent-looking stainless steel poles reach to the sky — and hold a secret.
Every three minutes, these poles emit a “cloud” of mist that rises, swirls and falls on anyone nearby. The mist is superfine and almost doesn’t feel wet when it touches your skin. My son loved running in and out of the mist, and then counting down the seconds before the next release.