Opened in 2001, the Israeli Children’s Museum is an exceptionally interactive museum designed to take children from the ages of 2½ to 11 on imaginative adventures into the world of the senses, and has already had over a million visitors.
What can I say about the Children’s Museum in Holon other than it is simply incredible! The one thing our local friends had told us upon hearing we were holidaying in Israel was that a visit to the museum is a must – I now understand why. Here children are not merely observers: they are part of the story, often the protagonist with a range of trails and exhibits for every age group covering a huge array of life experiences and the world around us.
Mention the concept of going to a museum whilst on holiday and my three boys (aged 12, 11 and 4 ) generally recoil in horror. With their friends, a fabulous swimming pool and the beach right on our vacation doorstep, it was going to take something pretty super-special to encourage them to try something cultural for the day! Finally, they reluctantly agreed to come – on the condition that if they hated it they would get double helpings of ice cream at dinner!
More than any other museum we have experienced, this museum is designed to capture the imagination of your child from the moment they enter the building.
Museum trails have been specifically designed for each age group, to ensure every child can get the most out of their visit. Each trail deals with thoughts and feelings and the life cycle through hands on exhibits, art forms and fun workshops
For the youngest visitors, trails include A Trip With Yanshul (owl-cat) and Following the Butterflies; ages 4 to 6, The Journey To Restore The Kingdom of Time – a superb time machine experience; ages 6 to 8, The Magical Forest – a journey with a prankster elf who reveals the secrets of moods and emotions; and ages 8 to 11, The Aliens. There are also tours including Dialogue in the Dark – an insight into what it’s like to be blind; Invitation to Silence – an experience that takes the visitor through a series of challenges to see what it’s like to be deaf; and Dialogue with Time – which looks at the experience of old age.
These may sound like deep and dark (rather than entertaining) topics for children, but two hours after they set out on their journey, my husband and two older boys emerged overwhelmed by their experience; lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents still alive in their Seventies we had opted for our older two boys to take the Dialogue with Time Tour. As well as seeing images of how they would look like in 100 years time, they were given a series of challenges to offer a sense of what elderly people face on a daily basis. This included putting their feet into a pair of heavy clumsy shoes to see what it feels like for an elderly person to climb stairs and an interactive exhibit which allows them to see out of the eyes of an elderly person who is suffering from cataracts.
Our youngest son took the At Eye Level trail, which incorporates a number of different rooms where we were introduced to a variety of art, music and creative exhibits. As we were led through each room, his eyes widened in excitement – almost as though there was a secret treasure chest of surprises behind each door. Our brilliant guide introduced him to many different types of art work, which he was able to touch, interact with and then recreate himself in a special art room designed for children. Our favourite part of the tour was the movement room where projectors helped create a series of images on the walls where he could imagine himself swimming with dolphins, flying with butterflies and jumping the waves. He even got a chance to visit the museum’s theatre, where he learnt how to use the lighting system and the glow-in-the-dark props.
Three happy children and two thrilled adults later we were still beaming as we headed home, totally inspired by our cultural experience. Every generation of your family will come away from a visit to this fantastic museum feeling just a little richer for the experience.
Why go: It’s a thought-provoking experience that gives a fascinating insight into quite unique social issues.
Who is it best for: Trails are aimed at kids aged from 2½ to 12, but adults of all ages will love the museum as much as the kids!
Top tip: Be sure to book this museum well in advance as due to its popularity it gets booked up months in advance
Facilities: There is a small cafe serving ice creams and coffee
Highlights for kids: Rather than walk around quietly like many museums, this is one place where you are encouraged to make noise and talk about the exhibits as much as possible.
While in area: Just outside the museum there is a brilliant sandy adventure playground for little and big kids. After the museum our kids found it fun to run around and let off steam under this shaded area that has some amazing play equipment.