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Please Touch Museum

Posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
One of the Nation’s premier children’s museums is located in one Philadelphia’s finest works of architecture.
 
The History
When the Please Touch Museum opened its doors in 1976, it was the first museum dedicated to serving children ages 7 and under.  The museum was dedicated to a hands-on learning environment that would make learning fun for young children.  The museum opened in Philadelphia for the Bicentennial celebration and was originally located in a small area within the Academy of Natural Sciences.  
 
Please Touch Museum in Memorial Hall
 
Due to the immense popularity of the museum, in just two years the Please Touch Museum was forced to move to a larger location entirely dedicated to the children’s museum.  In need of more space, the Museum relocated again in 1983 and the museum continued to grow in size and popularity. Then in 2008, the Please Touch Museum made yet another move, this time to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. 
 
Memorial Hall has a history that stretches back exactly 100 years further than that of the Please Touch Museum.  While the Please Touch Museum came about due to the Bicentennial celebration in 1976, Memorial Hall was constructed as part of the Centennial Exposition in 1876.
 
Designed by Hermann J. Schwarzmann, Memorial Hall is a massive Beux-Arts styled masterpiece.  During the Centennial Exposition, the building displayed works of art and continued to do so after the exposition ended since the hall became the first home of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
 
 
Please Touch Museum Torch
 
The Philadelphia Museum of Art moved out of the building in 1928 and the building was in disrepair by the turn of the 20th century.  It was in 2005 that the Please Touch Museum began to rehab the building and convert it into their new home.  Today the last remaining major building built for the Centennial Exposition has been restored to its previous grandeur and has become the vibrant home to one Philadelphia’s favorite museums. This month, The Please Touch Museum is celebrating the 5th anniversary of their move to Memorial Hall on May 14th, 2014. To commemorate the anniversary the Please Touch Museum will be hosting special events including meet and greets with famous characters in Children's literature such as Curious George! 
 
Please Touch Museum Garage
 
What to See
It’d be shorter to list what kids can’t do at the Please Touch Museum. The whole museum is designed with the intention of making this place as fun as possible for kids to visit.  There are live plays, music, puppetry and other performances.  There is an entire Story Castle where children can stop by for a daily story time or read a book on their own.  There is an indoor streetscape to explore that includes buses and cars that children can play in, a life-size recreation of Alice’s Wonderland, a space station, a train, and even a Carousel!
 
Please Touch Museum Carousel
 
While the Please Touch Museum is especially focused on entertaining and educating young children there are also exhibits that are designed with older children and even adults in mind.  An exhibit that focuses on the history of Memorial Hall and the Centennial Exhibition would be of particular interest to the older crowd.  
 

Also the fun doesn’t stop inside the hall; the hall’s eastern lawn is used as the home field of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia, a vintage base ball team that plays by 1864 National Association Rules.  So be sure to brush up on your 19th century base ball rules and bring plenty of mustache wax.
 
Insider Tips
Have you ever seen the movie "Big" starring Tom Hanks? If you have, you almost certainly have been waiting to one day recreate the scene where Hanks dances on an enormous piano with Robert Loggia. Well that chance has finally arrived. That enormous piano is known as a “Walking Piano” and was invented by Philadelphian kinetic artist and inventor Remo Saraceni. Today a Walking Piano is located within the Please Touch Museum.
 
How to Get There
Guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour have many options to get to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park, though perhaps the easiest way is to drive or take a taxi.  Parking accommodations are available right on site.
 
Guests can also catch the 38 bus at the corner of 5th and Market, just a block away from the National Constitution Center, where both The Constitutional Walking Tour and The Constitutional Bus Tour of Philadelphia begin and end.  Septa’s 38 bus route provides direct access to the Please Touch Museum.
 
Also note the Please Touch Museum is a short walk away from the Philadelphia Zoo, making it easy for families to check out both of these excellent family friendly attractions in one day.
 
Hours
Mon-Sat  9:00am – 5:00pm
Sun         11:00am – 5:00pm
(Note: these hours are subject to change, and you may want to contact the Please Touch Museum to confirm)
 
Additional Information
4231 Avenue of the Republic
Philadelphia, PA 19131
215.581.3181
 

 
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