Children’s museum celebrates 30K tickets sold in first year
By Caroline Enos | Staff Writer, The Salem News
PEABODY — The North Shore Children’s Museum will celebrate its first birthday this weekend with a special ticket deal for local families. and what a year it’s been.
More than 30,000 tickets have been sold to families from 277 communities in Massachusetts and 37 states since last October, according to a museum statement.
Although full-price tickets to explore the museum’s 15 interactive exhibits cost $12 for those older than 1 year, families who present an EBT or WIC card pay $3 per ticket. The museum also offers discount days for local communities, like what it’ll have on the weekend of Oct. 28 for Salem families looking to escape the Witch City’s Halloween crowds.
Tickets will cost just $1 this coming Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the museum’s first birthday. In all, 28.3% of the museum’s ticket sales so far have been free or at a discounted rate, the statement indicates.
It’s been a whirlwind of a first year for Executive Director Ali Haydock, her five-person staff and the many volunteers who give their time to the museum: The first of its kind on the North Shore. But it’s all been well worth it, she said.
“I love when I can walk around the museum during a busy play session and just see the kids having fun and bonding with their parents and experiencing something that they don’t have at home or that they don’t have at school,” Haydock said.
She and her team are constantly looking to improve the museum, which is geared toward kids ages 2-8. Each month now has a special theme, like October’s “fall fun” oriented offerings. Programming has also expanded to teach kids about everything from science to yoga to their local first responders.
New exhibits and a gift shop have opened over the last year at the Main Street facility, formerly a TD Bank, and the 501c3 organization Friends of the North Shore Children’s Museum Inc. was recently created to fundraise for the museum and support its mission of accessibility for all children.
The museum will offer two private birthday parties a week starting in November, along with expanding the number of field trips it hosts each week and its offerings for autistic and bilingual children.
“We’re increasing access to all kids and all families in the area regardless of their income, what language they speak or their abilities,” Haydock said. “We want to make sure everyone can come here and experience and benefit from the museum.”
The museum already has out books in multiple languages and hosts a sensory room that’s a calming reprieve for young visitors. There is also a game room with an interactive projector and a rotating exhibit.
Other exhibits allow kids to learn through play about banking, outer space, farming, bugs and bees, gross motor skills, crafting, STEM, the doctor’s office, topography and the ocean, comics and story telling.
“In the year since it opened, the North Shore Children’s Museum has become a destination for children and families from across our region,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said in the statement. “In addition to being a place for kids to have fun and learn, the museum has helped generate additional foot traffic downtown which contributes to the success of other local businesses.”
The city operated a test-run museum called CuriousCity for nine months in 2019 to gauge Peabody’s appetite for such a facility.
After a busy run, and delays from the pandemic, Bettencourt and the City Council created a children’s museum department in February 2022. About nine months later, the museum’s doors opened.
“We’re just really grateful for the community’s response to the museum,” Haydock said, “and we look forward to the year ahead now that our operations are ironed out and we can continue to enhance the experience here for our visitors.”
For online ticket reservations and more information about the museum, go to www.nschildrensmuseum.org.
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