The Wild Center in Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks is a natural history museum. Walking through the 54,000 square foot exhibit does not seem like a museum at all. This is a hands on, very open, learning laboratory playground. Kids going through the exhibit have no idea that they are learning . The exhibits here are all interpreted with kids in mind and everything is a sensory explosion.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon after a long car ride. I was afraid my 3 kids would not have their best museum behavior abilities with them. Immediately when we walked through the doors I felt assured I did not need to worry about this.
The museum is a very open concept building styled in the iconic Adirondack beam style. There are windows and lights everywhere. This is not your usual natural history museum. Built in an environmentally friendly style and the first New York museum to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and saves 20-30% of operating costs on green initiatives. All right, I know the kids do not really care about that. They just want to touch things and have fun. They can do all that right here and learn at the same time.
The museum tells the story of the development of the Adirondacks, a park bigger than the entire state of Massachusetts. The clouds swirl before your eyes, the ground squishes under your feet in the bog, you can touch the water that runs through the streams, and feel the ice from the glaciers that carved out the mountains. Our kids did all that and wanted more.
The curators also intelligently designed a scavenger hunt to look for the ‘golden otter’ throughout the facility. This is perfect for the child that might get a little side-tracked meandering through the exhibits or want to wander through them haphazardly. In addition to the otter lost on the prowl there are some real otters on display. We were able to catch an otter enrichment program and also learned that those furry little rascals like ‘blood cicles’.
There is also a Naturalists cabinet. This is the room that is mostly off limits when you visit other natural history museums. The kids were able to touch skeletons and compare mushroom specimens. There were also matching games for the younger kids and animal puppets to create your own show. All of this in a remarkably clean, organized and bright room.
What we experienced inside would have been enough for the price of admission. However, there are also 31 acres of trails outside and a ‘natural’ playground called the Pines to continue to blow off some steam. And lest you think you cannot visit the outdoors in the winter….they have free snowshoes available in all sizes so you have no excuse not to trek!!!
The Waterside café serves al fresco and there are also a few movies depicting various natural themes to sit and relax for a while. We cannot wait to head back in the summer.
Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary admission to The Wild Center as we evaluated all that the Adirondacks had to offer in the winter. I was not required to include any particular review.
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