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An inside look at the New Children's Museum during Museum Month 2022

New Children's Museum, San Diego, 2019
Courtesy of Philipp Scholz Rittermann / The New Children's Museum
The front of The New Children's Museum is shown in this undated photo.

During Museum Month, you can visit more than 45 museums throughout San Diego County, including the New Children's Museum downtown.

The Museum Month pass is a hot commodity in San Diego County right now.

“This is our 33rd year of Museum Month. This is the biggest of its kind in the country, where all the museums get together and offer half price admission," said Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Museum Council.

Lehman said Museum Month passes were available at all Macy’s stores and at more than 75 libraries across the county.

Museum Month 2020 ad 500x500 .jpg
Courtesy of the San Diego Museum Council
An ad for Museum Month is shown in this undated graphic.

Speaking of the county, Lehman told KPBS that there are more museums here than most people know.

"They’re all over San Diego. We go all the way up to Oceanside, all the way down to Chula Vista and National City and all the way out to Barona," he said.

And all the way down to downtown San Diego, where, at 200 West Island Ave., you find The New Children’s Museum. It's a 50,000-square-foot space where different kinds of art meet children 12 and under, and the takeaway for them is multidimensional.

“We are a new model of children’s museum,” said Kerri Fox, the deputy director.

Fox went on to describe the museum's mission and how it works. “We commission contemporary artists to create full scale room-sized art installations that children can touch and play in and on and immerse themselves in. So, we’re a little different," Fox said.

Related: Over 45 San Diego County museums discount tickets during Museum Month

Even from an adult perspective, what’s inside this place is fascinating. On the third floor, you find a big colorful object called a Whammock. Children climb in and up and across to reach the middle, having fun while learning how to collaborate with each other.

Back downstairs, you find the museum's latest addition, the Teatro Piñata. It's an interactive theater where children can do everything from being on stage, to staffing a ticket booth.

An inside look at the New Children's Museum during Museum Month 2022

Everything in the museum, all the art, is aimed at reaching children on many levels.

“Through art, children think a different way. They are more creative. We believe it gives them optimism, collaboration, critical thinking skills, resilience. All of these things in the various art installations as well as when they try their hand at creating art," Fox said.

NCM-Building Side.jpg
The New Children's Museum
The side of The New Children's Museum is shown in this undated photo.

Like just about every museum, The New Children’s Museum has had to adapt for the pandemic. It closed for 14 months, but staff still worked hard to continue the mission. Fox said the museum began sending out learning kits.

“We filled out little packages with all the materials that they would need ... and a little plan on how to do it," Fox said. "We made about 15,000 of those.”

Fox said the museum was recovering from the darkest days of the pandemic. It is now back to being open five days a week and has hired back almost all of the staff that was laid off.

It is an improving picture at a unique place, one of nearly 50 amazing museums and cultural institutions across this county, all of them giving 50% off admission through the end of February.