Throughout its 43-year history, Omaha Children’s Museum has encouraged children and adults to explore the world together through play.
But between work, school, activities and mobile technology, families are busier than ever. The museum is a place to slow down and reconnect.
“Omaha Children’s Museum lets families create memories during the quality time they spend together in the museum,” says Executive Director Lindy Hoyer. “These moments all add up to create a valuable reward in shaping future adults.”
In a 2018 survey of 2,000 parents by California’s Visit Anaheim, 65 percent described their lives as “hectic,” and said that vacations were their only meaningful time together.
The Omaha Children’s Museum is a weekend family destination right at home.
Debbie and Steve Krambeck have a family membership and enjoy taking daughters Anna, 7, and Ellie, 2, to the museum on weekends to unplug, play and grow closer as a family.
“It’s great to go to a place with toys and activities that are new to kids,” Debbie Krambeck says. “We can be there and play together, because the stuff they have is interesting to adults as well. And, part of why we are members is because we get discounts to special events, which we have fun attending.”
Seventy percent of museum visitors say they use the Omaha Children’s Museum as a family activity, Hoyer says, which is the biggest reason they go. Hands-on learning and commitment to fun is the second reason; third is the museum’s ever-changing calendar of programs, special events and exhibits.
Hoyer says: “We hold ourselves to a high standard of excellence when it comes to producing and presenting our many programs. We ask our visitors often for their feedback. And we listen.”
Families can leave technology at home once they set foot inside the museum. There are very few opportunities to be in front of a screen. That’s on purpose, Hoyer says, because avoiding the distraction of technology is built into the museum’s programming. It aims to be a solution to the problems some experts say screen time can cause, such as behavioral and mental health issues, Hoyer says.
“Omaha Children’s Museum is the wholesome antidote to these moments, and allows a family to engage in fun and learning together, without the crutch that screens can provide,” she says. “Childhood is a time for children to be at play and learning, surrounded and supported by parents and other caring adults.”
Omaha Children’s Museum is hosting a special exhibit, "Diggin’ Dinos," through April 11. “America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far” runs Jan. 18 through April 19. Seasonal exhibits that are open each year include Cobweb Castle and Santa’s Magic.
In addition, there’s a monthly series of late nights of play at the museum called Friday Family Date Nights. Themes are inspired by pop culture like “Star Wars” and Candyland Night, as well as perennial kid favorites like dinosaurs. The date night series is held at least once a month during the winter.
Popular annual events include the Fairytale Ball in the summer and Tinker Fest in the fall.
For more information, visit ocm.org.