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“Curious George” exhibit lets kids monkey around at Fort Worth science museum

10/04/2013 11:18 AM

11/12/2014 3:03 PM

A little monkey, the famous Man in a Yellow Hat and your curious kids are meeting up for a play date at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

Its newest exhibit, “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious,” on loan from the Minnesota Children’s Museum, opens Saturday for a three-month stay.

This interactive exhibit brings to life H.A. and Margret Rey’s classic story about a curious brown monkey that goes on all sorts of adventures with his owner, the Man in the Yellow Hat. The displays focus on what kids love to do — push buttons, pull levers and satisfy curiosity, as it takes them through challenges and experiences in George’s neighborhood.

Each area of exploration teaches little ones about math, science and engineering.

At the entrance, a wall of windows greets visitors. Upon opening each one, kids will find familiar characters from the series to greet them.

Murals and bright colors beckon guests to touch, play and explore. The exhibit is intended for kids ages 3-7, but older children may enjoy the familiar world and its characters, too.

Curious about the exhibit ourselves, the museum let us in for a sneak peek several days before it opened. Here are some can’t-miss stops and adventures around the “neighborhood”:

The park

The exhibit has an open floor plan, centered on a large tree and a circle of benches, where George himself sits as a plastic statue, perfect for a photo op. Parents can see the whole room from this central location.

Settings from the books and PBS cartoon series are spread out around the room. There are also benches throughout the exhibit where parents and children can sit and read “Curious George” books.

Nearby, play a round of mini golf with three holes. Putt with a foam club and real golf balls over a “water” hazard, up a curvy hill and through a spinning obstacle. Add bumpers, turntables and other objects to experiment with physics.

When you are done, be sure to put everything back in its place at the organizing station.

The grocery store

Play supermarket as the customer or the cashier. Shop and add plush produce to your bag. Weigh bananas and check customers out at the cash register.

Sort vegetables into bins based on size, shape or color. Practice counting the colorful carrots, tomatoes, oranges and other produce.

The apartment building

Outside the apartment, help George wash the windows, suspended from the building on pulleys. Turn the two wheels to move him up, down and sideways. On the inside of the building, find an apartment to experiment with light and shadows.

Place magnetic triangles, squares and rectangles on a light table and see your design projected onto the wall. Build a tower out of wooden blocks and move the spotlights behind or turn the table to create shadows.

The projector can also change the light to different colors, giving your creation’s silhouette a red, blue, green or yellow glow.

Try on a bright red elevator operator jacket. Push the button and open the elevator doors to meet the people inside. Peek inside their mailboxes to find hidden surprises.

The construction site and farm

Put on a hard hat and a bright orange vest to become a construction worker. Use stencils to draw and plan your own building at the light table. Build a tower by stacking the giant foam blocks or load them onto the conveyor belt.

Learn about wind at the farm. Build a whirligig from Tinker Toys and see how it moves in the fans.

Make your own paper pinwheel or windsock, and then test it out. At the larger fans, press the button and aim to see how wind affects the kite, wind chimes and pinwheels of multiple sizes.

The museum

This museum-within-the-museum may just be a parent’s favorite part, but it will also appeal to kids. The corner is set up like an office with a desk, and displays tell the story of the authors and George’s creation.

The Reys escaped from France during World War II on bicycles, bringing the manuscript that would eventually become the first “Curious George” book, published in 1941.

Displays show vintage books and toys, collected over many years. Open drawers, peek inside the bicycle basket, and trace the route that the Reys followed on the map.

The party room

A side room off the exhibit includes a pint-sized stage and several picnic tables. On weekends, guests can reserve the space for birthday parties.

When parties aren’t going on, the room will offer daily activities for visitors that will include puppet shows, storytime and crafts. A schedule of activities will be posted at the exhibit’s entrance daily.

Nearby, George blasts off on a cutout rocket to space. Pose with him for the camera, then email the photo home.

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