A real fire truck and baby kitties in THE SAME BUILDING? Your kids are gonna lose their minds!
I have a confession to make.
When I first heard about the Children Museum of Richmond’s plans to open a new satellite location in Chesterfield, I was pretty excited…but for totally the wrong reasons.
Ever since my mother gifted us a CMoR membership for our son JR’s third birthday, he and I have logged some serious hours at the Broad Street museum. And while CMoR’s flagship location is one of this city’s biggest treasures, it can be a bit tricky to navigate once 10am hits.
Fellow CMoR regulars probably know what I’m talking about. As you stand watching your preschooler splash happily (and possibly quietly) at the water table or dig intently for fossils in the Dino Zone, a cacophony of squeals and stampeding feet fills the space around you and suddenly you’re surrounded by…
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Grinch about it or anything. I mean, it’s a museum for children, so it’s obviously a fantastic choice for elementary educators looking for enrichment experiences for their students. But after repeatedly watching my son try1 to hold his own with a group of kids twice his age, I was thrilled to hear there might be a little breathing room in our future.
However, after checking out CMoR–Chesterfield on Friday, the reason behind my excitement over the new location shifted. No longer2 was it about my son potentially getting the Dino Zone to himself once in a while; now it’s about what the Chesterfield branch has in store for kids from all over Richmond.
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With CMoR—Central on West Broad Street going strong, and the museum’s first satellite location out in Short Pump keeping the folks in the West End happy, a move to Chesterfield was the logical next step.
“Looking at the population of the greater Richmond area, you can’t ignore Chesterfield,” said CMoR president and CEO Karen Coltrane. “And actually their school system comes to our museums more than any of the others—even Richmond City.”
Coltrane credits Chesterfield County schools Superintendent Dr. Marcus Newsome for that. Newsome is a former inner city art teacher who, as Coltrane puts it, “totally gets the Children’s Museum.”
CMoR—Chesterfield is located in the Winterpock Crossing Shopping Center on Hull Street Road3 right in that Brandermill/Woodlake sweet spot and close enough to the county border that it could potentially bring in visitors from Amelia and Petersburg who’d be otherwise hesitant to make that long drive into the city. And much like CMoR—Short Pump, the Chesterfield location has the additional selling point of quick and easy access to pretty much every family-friendly restaurant you can think of.
Taking all of this into consideration, it makes perfect sense that CMoR headed south. But I know what some of your city dwellers are thinking. “Is it really worth making the 30-minute trek down Powhite, route 288, and Hull Street?”
I assure you it is.
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As they did in Short Pump, the powers-that-be with CMoR successfully created an experience at this new location that manages to stay loyal to the CMoR brand without feeling at all cookie-cutter.
It’s all about imaginative play at CMoR—Chesterfield. Well, imaginative play with really, really good props.
“Nothing is better than the real things for kids. They love that authenticity,” said Michelle Rosman, CMoR’s director of community and media relations. Knowing this, CMoR–Chesterfield pulled out all the stops to create true-to-life experiences where their little visitors’ imaginations can have at it.
Case in point: the fire truck parked in the front window.
After seeing fire trucks in the children’s museums of Charlotte and Greensboro, Coltrane and her team decided that was just what the CMoR–Chesterfield location needed. They ended up seeking out an older model with an open cab so kids could actually board the vehicle and have access to all those fun knobs, dials, and buttons. So where does one locate a fire truck available for purchase?
“Believe it or not, I bought it off eBay from someone in Ohio and they drove it down to us,” Coltrane explained.
The fire truck and a full-size GRTC bus help make up “Transportation Station”, just one section of CMoR—Chesterfield’s retro Main Street theme. Kids can also shop in the grocery store, serve up some pancakes at the Silver Diner, stop by the bank, put on a show on the Sara Belle November Theatre Stage, or spend time caring for a few furry friends at The Clinic for Compassionate Care, an exhibit made possible by CMoR’s collaboration with the SPCA. They’ve even got a few kittens4 on the premises that are available for adoption.
Rounding out the Main Street theme is a large patch of artificial grass smack-dab in the middle of the museum. Modeled after your typical small town park, the space includes lawn games5, bouncy balls, rainbow parachutes, hula hoops, what have you—basically it’s a fully-stocked arsenal of activities that will get rid of any and all wiggles your kids might have.
For you CMoR purists out there, fear not. The Chesterfield location also provides some of the more standard (but always wonderful!) Children’s Museum experiences6, like an adorable (albeit scaled-down) art studio, a water table where you and yours can get thoroughly soaked, a sweet play area just for toddlers, and (of course) a train.
CMoR–Chesterfield opened to the general public on Saturday. That paired with the school year just now coming to a close means you’re probably going to have to deal with some crowds for a while. But trust me: just go. CMoR—Chesterfield is too much fun to miss.
(And I mean, for me, just seeing my son’s face when he first claps eyes on that fire truck will surely make the trip–and the crowds–well worth it.)
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CMoR—Chesterfield is open 9:30am to 5pm, seven days a week through Labor Day. Admission is $8 for ages 1 and up, $7 for seniors. CMoR memberships are good at all three locations.
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- And fail. Sorry, bud, but I keep telling you: use those elbows! There are no friends at the Apple Tree. ↩
- Ok, it’s still a little bit that. ↩
- Can someone explain to me why it gets to be a street and a road? I’m looking at you as well, Cary Street Road. ↩
- BAYBEE KITTEHS. ↩
- Guys. They have a miniature corn hole set. ↩
- Is that even a thing? I’m saying it’s a thing. I feel like my status as a CMoR Frequent Flyer allows me that privilege. ↩