Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 215 - The Madison Children's Museum/Adult Swim

I have never visited the Madison Children’s Museum. Initially, experiencing the Madison Children’s Museum focus on entertaining and educating children caused me not to add the event to my list of places to check out in the Madison area, but as my “I have never...” year started progressing friends of mine increasingly provided positive remarks about the location. In each instance they would talk about the endless array of activities and the endless amount of fun they had while visiting the Madison Children’s Museum, which would always end with a recommendation to make a trip to the building. As someone that generally avoids locations containing hoards of screaming kids, the idea of making a trip to the museum during my “I have never...” journey still seemed a bit doubtful in the face of such remarks. However, I was willing to keep an open mind about the experience, which inspired me to add a visit to the Madison Children’s Museum to my growing list of potential new experiences.

It wasn’t until well over six months into my “I have never...” year that the idea of visiting the Madison Children’s Museum resurfaced as a new experience that might be worth looking into. After revisiting many of my new experiences that had occurred at some of Madison’s noteworthy locations, I realized failing to visit the Madison Children’s Museum would likely be a foolish decision. Although I still didn’t like the idea of a chaotic space filled with energetic children, I decided I would set aside time to visit the museum over the winter months to see if it truly lived up to its reputation. As a result, I started researching the Madison Children’s Museum for upcoming events that would fit into my schedule.


Within a few minutes of starting my search, I found myself reviewing a list of upcoming events on the museum’s calendar. At first, the events I came across all provided little appeal or inspiration for braving a crowd of parents and children to gain a new experience, but then my eyes fell upon a two words that I almost overlooked entirely, “Adult Swim.” Curious, I clicked the link and began reading about an evening, adults only “ugly sweater” holiday event featuring live music, hands-on projects, and cash bars hosted in the Madison Children’s Museum. The find induced an immediate rush of excitement and celebration as I sat in front of my computer. I was going to be able to experience the Madison Children’s Museum in the best way possible, and every part of me knew it was very likely it was going to be a blast. As a result, I promptly bought tickets and added the event to my calendar, anticipating a night unlike any other I have experienced during the first half of my “I have never...” year.

Several weeks later, the night of the “Adult Swim” event at the Madison Children’s Museum was finally upon us. As a result, I made my way home after work, donned my ugliest sweater, and prepared for the short trip downtown. When Rachael and I arrived at the museum the event had just begun, but people were streaming into the building with each passing second. Those that came before us already had drinks in hand and were actively exploring the space, which was covered with vibrant, interactive displays and fixtures that would clearly provide hours of entertainment. Without hesitation, Rachael and I found a place for our coats and joined the group around us to partake in the wide array of entertaining hands-on experiences. Within minutes we were full engaged with a variety of activities that put our mind to work and exercised our creativity. We had barely covered any ground in the museum, but it was already clear everything I had ever been told about the Madison Children’s Museum’s entertainment value was dead on.

My print design

As Rachael and I explored all the museum had to offer, the next few hours flew by as if only a few moments in time. Our path took us to a variety of interactive machines, through a sky bridge designed like the ribcage of a dinosaur, onto a human-sized hamster wheel suspended over the first story of the building, and into a tower of obstacles that culminated in a long, dark slide descending nearly a story into the building. We encountered a “paint wall” upon which we could paint freely, discovered festive wreath-making stations, played pinball, and tried needlepoint felting. Finally, we examined items under a high-powered microscope, constructed musical chutes for wooden balls, viewed the capitol from a beautiful, snowy rooftop terrace, and, of course, had a few drinks along the way. As if the list of experiences doesn’t make it obvious, our experience at the Madison Children’s Museum “Adult Swim” event was an amazingly fun experience.

Well, I'm older than four...

Arts and crafts!

Tonight’s experience with so many festive people and so many entertaining activities made my first experience at the Madison Children’s Museum better than I ever could have expected. While I would like to give a full breakdown of each event we encountered during our experience, the dozens of times I would likely find myself using “fun”, “entertaining”, and “awesome” would likely bore anybody reading this blog entry. As a result, I will simply state that the experience I had at the Madison Children’s Museum tonight is one that will stand out in my year of new experiences. In the midst of our routines and our responsibilities it is rare we get time to just cut loose and have fun like we did when we were children, but the unique blend of adult interaction and interactive activities designed for children at the Madison Children’s Museum “Adult Swim” event provides an outlet to do just that. For me, reliving that sense of freedom and curiosity that comes with youth was an exhilarating and refreshing experience, which is probably the best way to start a weekend anyone could possibly have.

After our first experience at the Madison Children’s Museum there is little doubt Rachael and I will make another trip in the future. Should the museum host another “Adult Swim” event I know I will definitely be in attendance, and next time I will likely recruit a team of people to join me. With such a unique opportunity to experience the wonder and creativity inspired by the Madison Children’s Museum, I would be doing myself and anyone that joins me a service in doing so, which is all the motivation I need to put something together the next time this event crosses my path. I just can’t express enough how much fun today’s “I have never...” experience was. Seriously, the Madison Children’s Museum is something every adult should experience. It’s just that good.

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