Buffalo Museum of Science: a KidsOutAndAbout review
Buffalo Museum of Science: a KidsOutAndAbout review
by Kathleen McCormack
Being that my grandmother is in her 80’s, she no longer wants more “stuff” cluttering her home. So during this past holiday season, I gave her what she really wanted for Christmas – time with family, especially her two young great-grandchildren. But where to take an infant, a preschooler, two parents, and a senior citizen so that everyone would enjoy the experience? We chose the Buffalo Museum of Science – the right choice for our multi-generational day of fun!
How to Make the Most of Your Day at the Buffalo Museum of Science:
Though our visit was a success, here’s what we wish we had known beforehand to make it even more memorable.
1. Come back at least twice a year.
My grandmother was born and raised in Buffalo, NY but had never been to the science museum. Had she gone in her youth, she wouldn’t have recognized it from the interactive, multisensory extravaganza we enjoyed on our recent trip. BMS is near completion of a 16-year overhaul, renovating every floor and exhibit to make them more exploratory, kid-friendly, and easy to rotate to keep things interesting. Families can come to visit several times a year and expect to see something new every time. Since we live in Rochester, an hour’s drive, we’ll likely be back again.
2. Keep the kids moving (if you can only make one special visit).
We’re lucky to live an hour from the museum, but if you’re coming from a farther distance, you’ll be hard pressed to see everything unless you keep encouraging the kids forward. The second we walked into the museum, my preschooler was hooked on the Explorations Gallery with a water table, train table, dress up clothes, magnet boards, etc. I certainly didn’t want to stop her from playing but we had dinosaurs to see and outer space to explore!
The same thing happened in the Explore You exhibit, a fascinating laboratory dedicated to learning about the human body. At one point, my daughter was constructing a skeleton puzzle while Daddy was practicing surgery, and Grandma was looking at x-rays on the giant light table.
After four hours, there were additional exhibits we wanted to explore, but the youngsters (and Grandma too!) were getting tired. I wish I had encouraged our little party along a little faster in the beginning to have had enough stamina to make it through every exhibit.
3. Take advantage of their unique membership offers.
Being residents of Rochester, I was jealous that our local museums and nature centers don’t offer similar membership structures. Membership for a family is a mere $65 for the year. With adult admission at $10 and kids 2 – 17 at $8, a membership easily pays for itself within two or three visits.
The real gem, however, was the Family Plus plan. For only $75, members get one free guest with every visit! How often do you want to bring along your girlfriend to chat with while the kids play or the cousin from out of town or a playmate for your kid so you can zone out on the sidelines or a grandparent to help you carry the diaper bag and coats? Can you tell I’ve made this wish 100 times? With the Family Plus membership, you don’t have to shell out admission for that extra person every time. Rochester museums take note – the Family Plus Membership is the deal to beat all deals.
4. Take in a show.
Once I’ve paid admission to a place, I don’t generally go for the extras. (My kids know not to ask for souvenirs.) But the National Geographic 3D Cinema was too tempting, so we paid the extra $4 per person ($2 for members) to see Pandas: The Journey Home. With three different films to choose from, and shows running every hour, fitting it in was plenty convenient. And frankly, sitting still in a dark room was a nice break in our day full of stimulation and an opportunity to nurse the baby discretely. What I appreciated most of all, however, was that there was plenty of room in the theater, so when I leaned over to whisper to my little one an explanation in preschool terms of what was happening, no one sitting nearby was bothered. She can still tell you that pandas live in China, eat bamboo, and avoid predators like jaguars!
5. Bring cash.
At one point, our overtired daughter had a bit of a meltdown, but even that was not as inconvenient as the issues we had paying for lunch and our 3D show. The café offered standard fare: pizza, chicken fingers, even a welcome surprise, a veggie wrap. But there was only one person working during the lunch shift, so taking orders, making meals, checking out, and restocking supplies all fell on one poor guy. Maybe it was a fluke (someone called in sick that day?) but it was a bit frustrating when you’ve got a family choir of rumbling tummies.
We ran into a similar situation when getting our tickets to the film. The line to buy tickets was also the line for concessions. With only one cash register, the queue was around the block, causing a 20-minute delay to the movie start time. For some reason, running a credit card on this machine required quite a few steps. Have cash on hand to move the line along faster.
Floor by floor, the Buffalo Museum of Science just keeps getting better. If you’ve got a whole crew of varying ages and interests to entertain, you can’t go wrong. And with rotating exhibits, Scout programs, Discovery camps and a renovation plan that comes to a magnificent culmination in 2016, the Buffalo Museum of Science promises a good time visit after visit.
© 2015, KidsOutAndAbout.com
Kathleen McCormack is managing editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com and lives in the Rochester, NY area. Historical exhibits in her home include the crust behind the stove from dinner three years ago and the ancient dust bunnies under the couch just out of reach of the vacuum.