The traveling museum without walls is popping up in various locations around Bell County this summer, giving children a chance to experience different interactive exhibits.
“Where in Bell County is Temple Children’s Museum?” is a free summer pop-up series for children 8 years old and younger and their caregivers. The museum has set up engaging exhibits at McLane Children’s Medical Center in Temple, Thomas Arnold Elementary School in Salado and the Harris Community Center in Belton.
The final pop-up will take place 9-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, at First United Methodist Church in Temple.
Kathryn Hermans, TCM co-founder and summer program coordinator, said when the pop-ups began two years ago they called it “Where in the World is Temple Children’s Museum?” She said they changed the name to include Bell County this year to “let everybody know that even though our name says Temple, we plan on serving all of Bell County, if not more of our area.”
Hermans said the pop-up exhibits are varied at each event. She said two of the crowd favorites are the big blue blocks and the grocery store. She said the pop-ups usually have at least 100 people show up, but she estimated over 200 have shown up at a couple.
The most recent pop-up was set up Wednesday morning at the Harris Community Center. Hermans said the building was full of people, which was a “very nice problem to have.”
“This time we had the construction or wrecking ball,” she said. “And we were very fortunate – we had UT grad students build that for us as their capstone project, so that’s a very unique exhibit we have.”
Each exhibit offers kids a learning experience. Hermans said some exhibits offer kids a chance to recreate what they see their parents do, like the grocery store.
“They’re mimicking what they know, what they’ve seen their parents do, so they really enjoy that,” she said. “And we have scanners so that they can check out, and through play they’re doing exactly what mom and dad do.”
Other exhibits offer more creative learning, where the kids build something or figure out engineering techniques. Others are more science oriented. For example, Hermans said the pop-up at the children’s hospital had different stethoscopes to demonstrate how sound travels.
“So that experience just widens their horizons, and the questions they ask you are always a surprise, because you can tell they’re really thinking,” she said.