Wednesday, August 10, 2011

AC Gilbert House & OMSI

In Portland we have quite a few museums that are well known to locals and tourists alike. Two popular draws for children and the actual Portland Children's Museum and OMSI. I personally dislike the Children's Museum because often parents don't watch their children, no parking, and it is ridiculously expensive. On the other hand, I LOVE OMSI. It has an amazing preschool playroom-and once they put the water feature back it will have almost the exact same things as the Children's Museum. It also has amazing traveling exhibits. I have been able to see Goosebumps-science of fear, experience CSI, Samson the T-REX, Narnia, Davinci Inventions, Mechanical Dinosaurs, a real mummy from B.C. and more. The problem is it can be spendy too. One tip is they do often offer family memberships at a discount if you work in education. However, I have the best tip ever for OMSI and a children's museum WAY cooler than the Portland one, that is relevant to anyone and everyone!!!
The Science Playground at OMSI (one of the many rooms)
I love finding hidden gems. In Salem (about an hour from Portland) is a great children's museum called A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village. AC Gilbert was the creator of the Erector Set (engineering toy) in the early 1900s. This man was pretty remarkable with being a Gold Medal Olympian, graduated from YALE in medicine, made toys and telescopes, worked in the war efforts, and more. The museum is a group of Victorian Homes on the National Register for Historic Places, and one was Gilbert's Uncle's House. Not only does it have amazing exhibits but it has an amazing backyard play area.  
So the tip you ask: A family membership is $70-up to 5 children. With the membership you get to go to OMSI for free. Yep, the two museums have reciprocity (along with some other cool museums in Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA)! Plus you get a 2 for 1 coupon for the Portland Children's Museum as well. Now OMSI's family membership is $95 and only includes 4 children. That is a $25 savings right there. Portland's Children's Museum family membership is $85 for 4 children and you can't go anywhere else.

Some of the amazing things AC Gilbert's offers:

Market Place
A Favorite: Motion Light Room ("B" crawling)
China Room
New Oregon Agriculture Room (Cows are "B's" fave)
Cute Baby Play Area
Another Fave: Bubble Room!
Jungle Room
Another new edition:Vet Clinic
Shadow Room
Train Room
Dinosaur Room
"B" checking out some of the Erector Sets
Different Homes Outside Play Area
Anyone want to climb through a plant cell?
Outside marimba room
Wholly Mammoth Dig Site
Largest Erector Set to climb through
Pretty Amazing Play Structure-I think


  1. I'm confused?! Both sites say they have reciprocal programs but that they are excluded if they are less than 90 miles (as the crow flies from one another)? A C Gilbert and OMSI are definitely closer than 90 miles…so how does this work for you?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I am not sure if they are being more strict, but I went for two years without being turned away from either. However, when I tried to use the reciprocal for the Evergreen Space Museum they did turn me away for the 90 mile rule.