Why your kids (and you) will love the Discovery Center at the National Museum of Australia

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A fun, immersive and educational play space designed for 0-6 year olds with all learning skills welcome? It almost sounds a bit too good to be true.

With the National Museum of Australia (NMA) officially opening the doors of its Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Center, expect all that and more with spaces designed for high activity, quiet contemplation and creativity for the little ones.

Created with 0-6 year olds in mind (hello hands-on and immersive activities, storytelling, animation, and the chance to play with other kids), trust us when we say the Discovery Center can be enjoyed by little ones of all abilities.

The first area to greet the visitor is a soft and colorful crawl space for babies. This is an area for toddlers to create and build while their younger siblings roll, crawl and explore. Outside of the crawl space, visitors can learn creatively about Australia’s stories while encouraging generations of lifelong NMA enthusiasts.

The play area

In the space, each of the five Australian stories is told through an adorable animation, exploring topics such as Australian history, mythology and the environment – perfect for children and adults alike. There is definitely something to grab your child’s attention – the best part is that they can physically immerse themselves in the stories.

wambuwuny

In the great Australian grasslands, visitors meet Wambuwuny, the gray kangaroo, and hear the Wiradjuri story of how she got her pouch. This is a tranquil setting where children can listen to Wambuwuny’s story in one of three relaxing pods designed to mimic a kangaroo’s pouch.

Chris the sheep

Young visitors arrive in the bush to meet Chris, a record-breaking sheep, and learn how he strayed from his flock, grew the largest fur in history and became famous around the world. Chris’s space is an active area where kids can follow a labyrinth designed around a sheepfold and learn about collecting and how wool becomes our clothes.

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From the bush, our adventurers head for the reefs and lagoons of the Torres Strait. Here children can discover the story of Gelam, the boy who became a dugong, swam across the strait and transformed into many of the features that make up the islands today. In this area, they can place rocks in the lagoon to create a native fish trap or collect and group shells the way kids from Torres Strait Island do on Erub Island.

trim the cat

Then kids can learn about Trim, the first cat to sail around Australia, between 1801 and 1803 when he traveled with Captain Matthew Flinders. In this active space they will climb through the ship’s net, turn the wheel of the ship, look through a telescope and experience what Trim may have felt while sailing on HMS Researcher. Within the net structure there are quiet places for children to rest and relax.

sound

From the sea, visitors flock to the billabong where they meet the mysterious bunyip. There they can dance and dress up and are encouraged to act out the story of Australia’s most famous mythical creature. This is an active area where children are surrounded by projections and the many sounds of the billabong.

So you’ve watched Trim the Cat’s animation for what feels like the 100th time and your little one is still obsessed – now what?

The workshop

The workshop space offers a mix of facilitated programming, self-guided maker, and digital activities during museum hours and after-hours. Keep an eye on the NMA website to find out what exciting activities and programs are coming up.

If your little ones can’t get enough of the fun and adventure, consider becoming a paid Friends member. Admission to the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Center is free for adults and children with Friends membership. Join today at nma.gov.au/friends.

THE ESSENTIAL THINGS

What: The Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Center
When: Open daily with 75-minute sessions from 9:15 AM-4:45 PM. Bookings are essential.
Where: National Museum of Australia
How much: $15 for one adult and child, $10 additional child, $5 additional adult. Friends members play for free.
Web: For more information on tickets, Community Days and memberships, visit nma.gov.au/discovery-centre

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