The Gilbert House Children's Museum was founded in 1989 and named after A.C. Gilbert, famous inventor of the Erector Sets who also held 150 total patents, Olympic athlete, scholar, magician and business owner. A.C. Gilbert has also been hailed as the man who saved Christmas when Congress declared a moratorium on toy manufacturing in 1918 during World War I.
Located on Salem's Riverfront Park, the private nonprofit museum is home to 15 different exhibits, an outdoor discovery area, and offers educational programs. The museum is most appropriate for children ages 2-10 years old, however, older children and adults enjoy the museum as well.
Three historic homes comprise the museum—Rockenfield, Gilbert, and Parish House.
The exhibits at Gilbert House Children's Museum are spread between three historic homes as well as the Outdoor Discovery Area. Because of this, only about ½ of the exhibits are handicap accessible and the museum staff is happy to help anyone in need of assistance in planning their visit. There is also no formal stroller parking available at the museum and strollers cannot be taken into the exhibits except under special circumstances; however, strollers and wagons can be left in the lobby although the museum has no liability for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
Gilbert House Exhibits:
· A.C.Gilbert Legacy of Play This room educates visitors on the life of the museum's namesake and his inventions including the famous Erector Sets, magic tricks, and numerous achievements.
· Fortopia- Children can build their own world in this exhibit designed to allow the imagination to soar as visitor's problem solve, team build, and create.
· Tinker Tracks- Build a system of chutes and tracks and explore motion as you watch a ball move through a maze designed by you and your friends. Small parts are used in this room that small children may need to be monitored around.
· Center Stage Theater- Star in your own play or musical act, put on costume, play with puppets and more. Use the activity cards for inspiration or a fun game of charades for the whole family.
· All About Me- Kids can explore science and medicine in this station where they can tend to babies, play doctor, view x-rays, and check out real microscopes.
· Creation Station- An art studio where cultural from around the world can be explored through hands-on themed projects that rotate throughout the year.
· Farm to Table- Learn all about how agriculture and how the food you eat makes it to your table. Pick fruit, milk a cow, and harvest crops. Learn all about ecological diversity in the state of Oregon through murals by local artists and historical photographs of local farmers.
· Vet Clinic- Children can put on a lab coast and learn how to keep animals healthy and happy in this exhibit that features x-rays, weigh stations, and real life vet clinic situations. There are washing stations, kennels, and lots of stuffed animals.
· Eye Euphoria- A one-of-a-kind children's museum exhibit, eye euphoria features an oversized stained glass kaleidoscope located in the entrance to the Gilbert House. This special exhibit took over 2.500 hours to create and has an adjustable rotation speed. Designed by Donald Ferris of Washington, the creation was donated to the museum by his sister after his passing.
· Up, UP and Away- This interactive exhibit teaches children about aerodynamics, velocity and flight through building model airplanes and testing them in the wind tube. Not only that, there is an airplane cockpit that can be explored. Things to Do in Salem, OR: Gilbert House Children's Museum - Photo: Gilbert House Children's Museum
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