During our recent trip to New Mexico, we visited the Santa Fe Children’s Museum (SFCM).
At first, I was underwhelmed. The museum itself is small and the exhibits were all geared towards very young children. I worried that we’d made a mistake and that our seven-year-old would be bored. Thankfully, I was wrong.
It’s true that the SFCM isn’t as big or extensive as the San Antonio Children’s Museum but that’s not a fair comparison. The San Antonio Children’s Museum is a three-story museum that serves children from toddlers through age 10 in a city with a population of over 1,000,000. Santa Fe’s population, by comparison, is just under 70,000. With that in mind, it’s impressive that such a small community has a children’s museum and actively supports it.
As my husband pointed out, when we take our kids to the San Antonio Children’s Museum, they tend to become overwhelmed, bouncing quickly from floor to floor, activity to activity, their little heads spinning with so many choices of what to play with next. They rarely spend dedicated time at any one exhibit.
Because the SFCM is smaller and there were fewer activities and exhibits to explore, our kids actually spent a good amount of time in the exhibits that interested them most instead of manically jumping from one activity to the next.
Our 4-year-old loved playing at the Lego station. He also enjoyed the play kitchen area (He’s going to be a great cook one day, just like his dad!). Our seven-year-old daughter spent nearly all of her time playing with face paints that were set out in front of mirrors. She pretended to be an actress preparing to go on stage. “Where else can I paint my OWN face, mom, and not get in trouble?” she asked excitedly.
The SFCM also has a bubble station, a dress up station with makeshift stage, a series of wooden climbing cubes (appropriate for ages 4 and under), a loom for experimenting with cloth making, a nuts and bolts magnet station, and a collection of some of the world’s most fascinating bugs (The Santa Fe Children’s Museum bug exhibit is available to view online too for just $2.)
There is an outdoor area behind the museum that includes a vegetable garden, small amphitheater, various metal statues and sculptures, a tiny adobe house that’s at least 10 degrees cooler inside than out, and a colorful tire pit that will keep kids busy shoving tires in as long as you’ll let them.
A monthly activities calendar boasts yoga for kids classes, a bilingual story hour, nature walks, art through the ages classes, and open art studio times.
While I was underwhelmed at first, I admit that The Santa Fe Children’s Museum did win me over. And it certainly charmed our children. We spent two hours there playing and enjoying time together as a family.
Still, this is a small children’s museum geared for young kids. Children over the age of seven or eight would probably not stay occupied for long stretches.