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McWane Science Center: Museum Review

My memories of the McWane Science Center, a children’s museum in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, go back thirteen years. As an Alabama native, I fondly recall several field trips and family outings to the McWane Center. The museum even holds the title as my first date destination– I went there during 7th grade with my nerdy middle-school “boyfriend.”

I couldn’t deprive my daughter, a bright and perky three-year-old, of the opportunity to check out the best museum that Alabama has to offer. The trip to the McWane Centre was everything I’d hoped for and more. We arrived at the Center at around 10 a.m. and stayed until the staff locked the doors. I have never experienced such a fun and mutually satisfying field trip with my daughter. Now that I provide primary school science private tuition I know how beneficial these science museums are for kids. I would recommend this to all the teacher and tutors that are out there to take their kids to McWane Science Center.

Not Just for Kids

We met up with an old friend of mine at the McWane Science Center, and she and I agreed that the museum is certainly not just for kids. In fact, we grown-ups could have enjoyed the entire trip there without our little preschool-aged chaperone. Many of the science and entertainment exhibits were fascinating enough to keep the grown-ups entertained along the way. Who’s to say that roller coaster simulations, optical illusions, and shark-petting displays are only fun for kids?

A Tremendous Variety

The McWane Center is, by far, the largest and most diverse children’s museum I have ever set foot inside. From the basement floor, which houses an elaborate ocean-themed exhibit, to the displays showing dinosaurs, native birds, live river-fish, technological marvels, science-based games, optical illusions, ecological issues, and more, there was an endless supply of fun for kids and adults of all ages. Several large areas were built with a specific dedication to a younger audience. I could spend every day of the week at the McWane Center and still find new things to explore and to show my daughter.

The IMAX Theater

The IMAX theater at the McWane Science Center is one of its most popular attractions, so it, in some ways, deserves an entry of its own. The theater itself is a marvel; its visual effect and sound systems were stunning. Due to a low audience volume that day, my friend, daughter and I had the movie all to ourselves and were able to enjoy it in full. The movie itself, “Wild Ocean,” was a disappointment. It was visually appealing and had a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, but it lacked any tangible or surprising information.

My Daughter’s Own Review

Sometimes, a grown-up’s opinion of a destination for children just won’t cut it. If you need to know my daughter’s opinion– she asked to go back to the “McQueen Center” the entire way home. Two hours afterward, she continuously recounted her trip and asked if we could go back. When I explained that they were closed, her lip rolled out and she struggled to restrain her tears before falling asleep in my arms. In her own words:

“Hey Mama, I want to go back to the McQueen Center if your friend, Kitty, again. We got to see that big movie with dolphins, and they had a ball machine. I put a purple ball in a fountain to make it float. They had dinosaurs that were carnivores but not at all scary, and a wind machine that was like WHOOOSH and a bed of nails and a giant carrot. I want to go back to the McQueen Center, please. Please, please. Please. Hey Mama, can we please go back to the McQueen Center, please please please please?”

Out of the mouths of babes. I highly recommend the McWane Center museum to any family with children. For a surprisingly low cost of admission, you can give your family a thrilling and educational day out.