New Year’s Eve Before Naptime.

One of my favorite things about the holidays is taking a timeout from my busy schedule to spend with my family and friends. And one of the the most special moments from this holiday season is being able to spend time with my nieces, who currently live across the country. They flew in for the holidays, and I have been grateful to have been able to spend time with each of them over the past few days. I had no idea, however, that my day trip with my younger niece (age 6) would turn into a new post for The Voyage of DH.

Saturday morning, I picked up my younger niece and we headed over to western Philadelphia to visit one of the coolest family-friendly attractions I have ever seen: the Please Touch Museum. Located in Fairmount Park, the museum is part of the Centennial District of Philadelphia, which also includes the Philadelphia Zoo and the Mann Music Center. The PTM is a children’s museum that teaches about history, nature, and science through interactive, hands-on exhibits. Whereas many museums are covered with signs that say “Please Do Not Touch,” the very ethos of PTM is for children to learn by doing.

The PTM is housed in Memorial Hall, the last remaining building from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, a world’s fair hosted in Philadelphia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence (where, among other things, the following new inventions were displayed: the telephone, Heinz ketchup, and the first successful typewriter). The building itself is architecturally noteworthy, designed in a Beaux-Arts style, and after the Centennial Exhibition closed, the building was the original location of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PTM moved into this space in 2008, and the majestic building seems a fitting home for this terrific museum.

In addition to all the cool exhibits, the PTM was also hosting “Countdown2Noon: Celebrate NYE Before Nap Time,” a New Year’s Eve countdown and celebration (complete with a live band, a countdown, a ball that drops like in Times’ Square, and a blizzard of confetti). The celebration is a way for families with little children to welcome the New Year together, as most of the little ones in attendance will have long gone to bed before their parents start trying to remember the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne. It was a wonderful time, and we had a lot of fun.

The Please Touch Museum, housed in Memorial Hall.
The parking lot was so full, the attendant didn’t even bother taking my money ($10 on most days). “There’s no parking here. Feel free to drive through and look. Otherwise, you’ll have to park on the street.” When I finally did park, it required a hike back to the museum.
Finally parked, and nearing the entrance.
Water Works, which allows visitors to play with toys in water, all the while learning about how winds and currents affect ships.
The Alice in Wonderland exhibit. The lower level features several mazes which recreate moments from the story. The Cheshire Cat hangs out in the tree.
A working telegraph.
Tree Tots. Can I tell you how depressing it is for toys from my childhood to now be in a museum? I HAD this toy! Sigh…
“Roadside Attractions” is a wing of the museum dedicated to transportation. Kids are allowed to play in this Scion XB. There is even an air pump and a gas pump for children to set the correct tire pressure and fill ‘er up.
The Please Touch Garage lets you work on an engine (you can remove the spark plugs). I think my niece got bored when I started explaining how this was definitely a dual overhead cam engine… no evidence of VTEC, though.
A model of the skyline of Philadelphia. The train you see is a 1/4 size Monorail that children can board.
The Channel 6 Action News helicopter that hangs from the ceiling has a working camera in the nose. You can control it from a console near where I took this photo.
Getting ready to count down to the New Year in Hamilton Hall. Check out the interior architecture.
Happy New Year! If you look closely, you can see a snowstorm of confetti falling from the ceiling.
Smith Memorial Arch, which I spotted on the way out of the museum. It is an American Civil War monument that was commissioned in 1898, but was not completed until 1912.

The Please Touch Museum is a great attraction in Philadelphia, geared toward families with children 7 and under. Tickets are $17 for adults and children 1 and older (little ones under the age of 1 can enter for free). Normal hours are Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm. The Countdown2Noon celebration was wonderful- I really enjoyed welcoming in 2017 with my niece! Thanks for coming along on this fun, and totally unscheduled, Voyage of DH!

‘Til next time.

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