In the shoebox of my mind I have youthful memories of gleefully romping through the Portland Children’s Museum, touching everything in reach. And the best part? I was actually encouraged to have a fun, tactile, engaged interaction with the art I encountered. This was a museum a kid could enjoy, and not worry about being scolded for wanting to put her paws on everything.

This hands-on approach has been part of the Museum’s philosophy since a handful of decades after it’s founding in 1946. Portlander Dorothea Lensch was the  mind behind the creation of the “Junior Museum and Adventure House,” which in the 1970’s was re-imagined to be more interactive. Today the Museum hosts over a dozen permanent exhibitions, as well as a few rotating themes. The purpose of the museum is to engage children with the arts, sciences and their environment in a playful, creative way.

There’s something for every one for the 313,000-plus visitors who wander in every year. The Museum is set up to be welcoming to kids with different needs, a verity of age groups and a wide range of interests. Children have the opportunity to interact with critical thinking exhibits, play with other kids, learn from their environments, and interact with big ideas. The arts and sciences are equally represented, and children can engage in activities from “plumbing” to making clay sculptures.

The Portland Children’s Museum is open on regular weekday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with a calendar of special events rotating through the year. Cost varies by age, group size, and finacial need, but general admission is $10.75. Every first Friday of the month admission is free.

This week at Portland Radio Project we featured the Portland Children’s Museum as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. You can listen to interviews held with select members of the organization, below.