The Randall Museum in San Francisco was created to be a place where children can handle, see, and learn about animals and other living things through hands-on experiences, as well as be exposed to different kinds of arts and crafts. The museum has no entry fee, though memberships are offered to provide a discount on the many classes offered.
This is a fun museum for kids, with several great exhibits. First, in the lobby of the museum, children will find a wood model of a Victorian home, in which they can play and put on a puppet show, and a reproduction of an earthquake refugee shack, complete with bed and the bare essentials needed for survivors of the 1906 earthquake . Around the homes are hidden wood images of the animals we can expect to find around our neighborhood (coyotes, racoons, skunks, etc).
My son had a blast building at one of the three Duplo Lego stations that were set up to teach kids about earthquakes. Kids create buildings with the Duplo Lego’s on a platform. When they are done building, the child can push a button to create an earthquake, which shakes the building around. There is a knob that can be turned to change the intensity of the quake. At first, my son’s building shook apart when on the strongest setting, but then he put his Lego skills to use, and rebuilt using the overlapping techniques he learned in his PlayWell Teknologies Lego engineering classes. This time, his building didn’t fall down. Great fun! There is also Living With a Restless Earth exhibit that we didn’t get to.
Live Animal Exhibit
The highlight of the museum, in my opinion, is the Live Animal Exhibit, a large room filled with opportunities to touch, get close to, and learn about animals. The museum takes in wildlife that’s been found injured and cannot be returned to the wild. On this visit, my son was first drawn to the bee hive, with bees busily flying into and out of the hive, making honey. Then all else was left unexplored as he developed a love affair with the robin in the songbird enclosure. The robin flew up onto a branch within a foot of my son while he was checking out the birds. Then the robin proceeded to sing to my son, and my boy was in love. When it was time for us to leave, my son didn’t want to go. He didn’t want to leave the robin. Before bed that night, my son asked if we could go back to the Randall Museum in the morning to visit “his” robin. If only the museum weren’t an hour drive from our home! He cried because he was worried that the robin was missing him. Very sweet! The museum also has a variety of raptors and corvids on display, as well as reptiles, sea life, and small mammals. There is a nice little fenced off area where kids can walk into and pet the chickens, ducks, and bunnies.
The museum offers an abundance of hands-on art and craft and engineering classes for both children and adults. Ceramics, clay sculpting, and woodworking seem to be the primary focus, but you can also find gardening and habitat restoration projects to join. The Saturday drop-in activities seem especially fun. Check the Randall Museum website for classes and events!
Nature Outside the Museum
Interested in a hiking and outdoor fun around the museum? I also wrote about our Urbia wayfinding adventure on and around the lovely hill behind the museum. See post here… Urbia Adventure #2: The Rocky Mountain Behind the Randall Museum.
Interested in visiting? Check out the Randall Museum website for current information…. www.RandallMuseum.org