Sacred Love – The Rituals of Love
Well, you won’t believe your eyes, that’s for sure. And I think it’s pretty damned clear just exactly how this has escaped anything resembling acclaim.
Some of you may have visited one of the country’s so called “Children’s Museums.” Wikipedia defines them as “institutions that provide exhibits and programs that stimulate informal learning experiences for children. In contrast with traditional museums that typically have a hands-off policy regarding exhibits, children’s museums feature interactive exhibits that are designed to be manipulated by children.”
Some of these Museums are damned brilliant. I am sure that I am poisoned by the fact that in my hometown of Indianapolis I grew up with one of the United State’s largest, oldest, and most esteemed Children’s Museums. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is truly a phenomenal experience: five floors of science and historical exhibits with a multitude of different activities and things to do. At 36 years old, I enjoy it today as much as I did when I was my children’s age bollards for driveway.
Down on day two of my vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I found myself in a position with a few hours to kill with my four-year old son while my older son and wife were out doing other things. Stumbling through trying to find some good attractions down here for younger audiences I managed to locate the website of the The Children’s Museum of South Carolina. Having grown up with “Children’s Museums” I thought that sounded like a plan.
We only had to drive about 12 miles get there. It was just me and the young kid enjoying a day out on vacation, all the while telling him that we were headed to a fun place.
I started to get suspicious the closer we got to the alleged location. Every single tourist attraction in this town has multiple signs, billboards, brochures and advertisements. I had seen absolutely nothing on The Children’s Museum of South Carolina. In fact I had to dig pretty deep on the web to find it. It wasn’t even listed in most basic attraction searches for the Myrtle Beach area. Very odd.
When my handy little Magellan GPS told me I had arrived, there was nothing there. I drove back and forth twice squinting far back off the road to see if there was anything that could be it. After pulling back behind a roped off, empty parking lot we came to a small building that seemed to be a two-store strip mall. One store was Office Depot; the other was THE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF SOUTH CAROLINA. Uh oh. Not because of the location, but because the Office Depot was bigger than the museum. That’s okay though. How many times have we’ve all be deceived by something that looks very simple, plain and small on the outside only to be dazzled on the inside? Lots of times, right? Walking in the front door didn’t start to alleviate any of the apprehension. It was too late then. In my son’s eyes we had already arrived at “The Fun Place” and we were committed.
At $7.00 apiece, it was a reasonable investment to keep him occupied and happy for a while I guess, so we took the plunge. It was in the first 2 minutes after paying, that I realized that the afternoon would have provided more fun and excitement had we decided to enter the other door that lead into the Office Depot. This is probably an unfair observation since I generally enjoy occasional visits to Office Depot while my four-year old son generally does not.
My first impression of the place was that it wasn’t too terribly dirty. I wouldn’t exactly call it “clean” by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t covered in grime, either. Everything there was old and in a state of disrepair. It certainly was smaller than the Office Depot. It contained a variety of exhibits that you would find sitting on the back shelf of any old Kindergarten classroom.
One of the first “big” attractions was the Magic School Bus. This was a plywood structure painted yellow. There was a gigantic old steering wheel at the front that you could spin around if you sat in the “driver’s” seat. In the front of the bus was Television and VCR. The TV itself is unlike any I’ve seen in the last 20 years. Certainly it was a mid 80s model from the youngest generation of the advent of cable ready televisions. The program being shown on it was some animated misadventures of some kids driving a bus and getting into mischief. Avoiding animals on the road, flying into space…etc. Of course, in the interests of safety, there was a sign posted in large type asking visitors “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE VCR.”
Just outside the magic bus were the space and astronomy exhibits. One of them was a table about two-foot wide with really fine sand on it. This was the “What it would be like on the Moon” exhibit. At this point, the fine proprietors of the museum will have to forgive if I get the exact wording of some of these signs incorrect. We also apparently got to see what it would be like to actually walk on the moon, because the finely ground grey sand from the table was also scattered generously on the floor all around it.
Next in the space science section was the “What is Your Age on Other Worlds” exhibit. I’m sure you’ve seen similar exhibits yourself in other places. Unlike most of those passive exhibits that might have you enter your age and then show you what your age would be on the Mars, this was highly interactive. Fastened to the wall was one of those large button calculators. As a matter of fact, I had purchased that exact same model for my boss as a gag gift for Christmas last year since she seemed to have a problem constantly mis-placing her standard calculator. On the wall they hand painted the calculations the children need to do to answer the exhibit’s question. You punched your age into the calculator and did the math yourself to get what your age would be on Jupiter, for instance. Of course, your age is your age and this is all relative to the length of a planet’s orbit around the sun, but that would be WAY too much science for a children’s museum.
So much for the space science section. In a couple of places in the museum there were PCs set up to run very simplistic educational programs. Interactive flash games where you could click on things and watch animations that follow. I’m sure that most of those programs could probably be picked up on the discount rack at closeout stores. I would point out though that the metal folding chairs that you had to sit in to use those programs were in very good condition.Sacred Love – The Rituals of Love