We visited the Children’s Creativity Museum, San Francisco, as the very last museum on our trip around the world. Unlike most of our museum visits, it wasn’t about science, but (as the title suggests) about creativity. We loved it so much we went back a second time. This is an activity museum, which made us really want to live in San Francisco. It has a claymation area (where you can make your own claymation stop motion film) a music area (where you can make your own music video, experimenting with backgrounds) and lots of other very creative things to do. It is more than just an activity centre for children, with each area deliberately trying to stimulate children to be more creative.
I’m not sure it fits into our scoring system (which started out for science museums) but I’ll give it a go.
1. The Museum must engage and excite – everything about this musum engaged and excited us, as befits a creativity museum. We made our own stop motion claymation film (not quite as good as Wallace & Gromit), Callum and Declan both pretended to be newsreaders, and Declan had a wonderful time at the Imagination Lab, where he was given a shoe box full of stuff and a challenge (eg make a ladder for a fish) to make out of it. 10/10
2. The exhibits must work and not baffle – This is an interesting one. In pretty much all cases, you need some help from the guides to work out what to do. In one case (where they were making their own news story) the boys needed someone to restart the programs behind the exhibit. But in all cases (at least while we were there) there was someone at each station very happy to patiently explain what to do and help us through it. And on our second visit, we were treated like royalty because they had read our blog on the first visit. So I have to give this one 10/10 too.
3. A play area should not substitute for teaching science in a museum – this is the area where my scoring system breaks down. There were wasn’t much science taught here. But there was a lot of creativity explored, and even the play areas (there were two) involved some creativity. The presence of lots of guides also helped gently nudge all of us back to creativity from random play, also. 8/10
4. Televisions and computers are no longer, in themselves, cool, or more generally, everything should be up to date. The museum did very well here. There were lots of great uses of up to date technology, but technology wasn’t the be all and end all of this museum. 9/10
5. Museums should tell a story. This is the only section it is hard to rate this museum highly on. Partly because this museum encourages you to tell a story, rather than telling its own. 7/10.
This gives an overall score of 44/50, one of our top scores of the trip, which fits with how much we loved this place.
And now for the practicalities:
Cafe factor: there was none. But it is in the centre of San Francisco’s shopping district, so not hard to find somewhere nearby to eat. If you are desperate for coffee (as I was, when our visit took longer than I expected) there is a Starbucks not far away.
Expense: It costs $11 per person to visit (adults and kids) – not cheap, but San Francisco isn’t cheap generally. There is also an old fashioned carousel outside, which is $2 for two rides, but probably for kids younger than ours.