Families visiting Phoenix this summer will have a new kid-friendly destination to enjoy, and it has a catchy name: the i.d.e.a. Museum. The acronym stands for imagination, design, experience and art, which are the guiding principles behind the new Mesa venue.
Formerly known as the Arizona Museum for Youth, the museum has undergone a name change and expanded its exhibit space. In the past, the museum focused on art-inspired activities. Now, the museum offers a greater range of activities, including interactive displays dedicated to technology, science, design and engineering.
One of the new interactive exhibits is Soundscape, an area where young children can explore different "sound worlds." There's also the Recyclery, where children reuse and recycle materials to make personal artwork. Young green artists can even put their work on display.
The new i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa delivers hands-on fun and learning for young children and their families — Photo courtesy of i.d.e.a. Museum
Kids will also love playing on the Tech Table, a light-and-motion table filled with interactive games. For budding young filmmakers, there's the Snap Fix. Kids can bring their own props or pull objects from the prop box to star in their own film.
Fashion designers in the making will enjoy the Face Frames exhibit, which lets kids sketch and make their own fashionable and functional eyewear while learning about the history of eyeglasses.
Young visitors are also invited to participate in the Design Our World exhibit. In this exhibit, kids are asked to re-imagine the next design phase in the museum's outdoor space. Children with an interest in design will enjoy looking through the design sketches created by Arizona State University architecture students.
Artville, the interactive gallery that has been a mainstay of the museum for more than 30 years, has been expanded and renovated. The gallery playfully recreates a real town, letting kids experiment with a variety of hands-on art media.
In the new Wee Design and Build exhibit, young children can build roofs, bridges and columns using LEGO Duplo blocks. At the S.T.E.A.M. (which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math) Train and Tot Depot, kids can carry a stationary train down a simulated video track by working controls and real buttons.
One of the most popular neighborhoods in Artville is the Town Squares, which is filled with oversized, soft blocks that children can build with and stack. Miniature Picassos will also enjoy the new art studio, which has been expanded to include a "wet and messy" space where children can play and create.
The i.d.e.a. Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.