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Museum of York County

December 30, 2010

Last Summer the kids and I attended the Museum of York County‘s 60 Birthday Party. It was my first trip to the museum since having kids and I was delighted by some of the recent improvements that make it a great kid-friendly place to spend the day. We recently went back when it wasn’t so crowded (i.e. we were the only people there) and I wanted to share so more of you can learn about this hidden treasure.

Also, the parent organization —Culture and Heritage Museums— just opened a brand new children’s museum in downtown Rock Hill that will be worth a visit soon, too.

The original museum has gone through a transition to make it more “hands-on.” It kind of reminds me of the museum in the Curious George movie that realizes it has to change with the times to stay afloat. Fortunately this is really great for the kids.

Tinker Tim’s Toy Shoppe is the first area for exploration. It is based on drawings by Rock Hill native illustrator Vernon Grant (he invented the original Snap, Crackle, Pop guys). The area has a dress up corner, a large wooden shoe for climbing in, carpet “stones” for playing games and making paths, a little cottage to play “house” in, building blocks, and more. It is more geared toward young elementary and preschool age.


Next you have the Stans African Animal Exhibit–it is spread through the majority of the museum. It is one of the world’s largest collection of taxidermy animals (I know this won’t be every one’s cup of tea–not exactly the same as seeing living animals but you can get closer than at the zoo). Most of the exhibit was acquired in the 1960s well before the current more animal-friendly concept of live and let live. It includes more than 200 animals from a shrew to an elephant. Kids can get up close and personal with the most amazing range of animals and see how large many of them truly are. They can compare their height to that of a giraffe, see a hippo and even a white and black rhino. It really is quite remarkable.

A similar area includes flora and fauna from the region such as a wetland and a forest scene. This area compelled my son to launch into an impromptu narration of the difference between frogs and toads.  There is also an area that show wildlife at night.

The ”Naturalist Center”‘ lets children get hands-on with samples of rocks, insects, birds, and small animals to explore in ways not usually available unless you have an extremely well-stocked science lab. There is also an area for children to play with toy dinosaurs, investigate magnifying glasses, and read books about nature.  The center has more than a dozen black cabinets, all of which are unlocked for your little scientist to discover what’s inside.

The Catawba River Gallery  is where children can learn about the area’s central river and water supply. They can see how dams affect water flow and how people used to cross rivers. They can also investigate how trash in the sewer system gets into our rivers and streams. There is also a giant overhead map of the Catawba Area watershed where children can walk on the river and see how the river interacts with where they live.

The museum is also home to revolving art exhibits and a planetarium. The gift shop has unique games and toys as well as nicer adult gifts.

It is well worth the trip and the admission fee (free on Sundays!) to spend a little time exploring.

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