Posted by: Jamie Stamm | July 23, 2008

Day at the museum

This past weekend, in an attempt to make good for our canceled beach trip, Jerry and I took the kids to Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.

While the main reason for our visit was an exhibit celebrating the upcoming summer Olympics, the fun started way before we reached it, first with the museum’s signature wall of marbles (the kids loved running their hands over it, although if I had to work in the gift shop or at the nearby information booth, I think the pretty much constant sound of rolling marbles would get to me pretty quickly) and then with a collection of oversized games, including chess, dominoes and Connect Four, which Cera had just learned to play the weekend prior.

Next, we stopped by what I would term the imagination area, where kids can dress up in costumes and play on a wooden fire engine or ambulance …

… in a post office or farm stalls, or pop out from behind a stage curtain.

Anthony was particularly fascinated with the train display, which was right at his height and covered three large tables. It was pretty awesome.

Also on the museum’s first floor are a water play area, art projects and puzzles, and a huge pirate ship for kids (and adults) to climb on. On the second floor, we created paper airplanes, which were later launched from the second floor to the first in a Sunday afternoon Marbles ritual, and raced cars that we had built from a bin of wheels, axels and other parts.

Finally, we reached our destination, the Marbles Olympics, where kids and their parents can grab a scorecard and test their mettle at several events, including the javelin throw, basketball shoot, standing long jump, ping pong and hurdles. Cera enjoyed the rhythmic gymnastics …

… as well as an art station where she created her own flag (there was another area for making medals as well).

But for Anthony, it was all about the hockey. The exhibit features a synthetic hockey rink, where visitors can trade in their shoes for a pair of black socks and glide across the “ice.” And all the requisite gear is provided as well, from jerseys and helmets to sticks and gloves. Anthony started out in goal (this is him making a save) …

.. but moved to forward after his overprotective Mommy started worrying about how hard pucks were starting to fly at him.

Either way, he (and we) thought he was a winner.

There is much more to do at Marbles as well, from playing in an outdoor sand area (Anthony declared the sand “too hot” on this particular afternoon) to karaoke. We were there for just over two hours and could have stayed even longer had it not been creeping closer and closer to nap time.

We followed up our museum visit with a short walk across the street to Moore Square Park, where we enjoyed a picnic (we packed our lunch in a cooler, but there’s also a Subway on the side of the park opposite the museum) …

… and then it was ice cream from a museum vendor on the way back to our car.

It was an excellent way to spend a ridiculously hot summer afternoon – in an air-conditioned museum, followed by lunch in a shady park and a cool treat for dessert. Learn more about Marbles at


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