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Taking the Kids: Visiting a museum safely

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Do your kids think they can run faster than a Chihuahua? If you find yourselves in Denver this fall, they can try at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s new engaging Dogs! A Science Tail exhibit that was developed by the California Science Center.

In case you are wondering, Chihuahuas, the smallest dog breed, can run 15 miles per hour. The kids — and you — can also see if you can outrun a Pug — they only go five miles per hour — or a Greyhound who can run 44 miles per hour.

Test your “Pup” culture with a Jeopardy-like game hosted by Alex TreBark and record your own dog stories. See if a dog would be a good pet for you or if you would be better with a frog or a snake.

The popular Denver museum, which just reopened earlier this summer after being closed 100 days because of the pandemic, is also hosting the Art of the Brick Lego Sculpture exhibit by renowned artist Nathan Sawaya. He has fashioned famous artworks, including the Mona Lisa, a T. Rex and a more than life-sized swimmer all out of LEGO bricks.

“I’m a big LEGO fan,” said Lily Violet, 10, “and this sure beats sitting at home.” In Denver, as in more than half the country, kids are facing remote school at least for part of the fall. Museums and their increased virtual programming can help when there’s too much home and screen time.

“It’s important for families to keep as much consistency as possible during these troubling times and find new and creative ways to replace the activities that may be limited right now,” in a safe way, said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children’s museum in the country, which has also recently reopened. “Museums can provide important family learning opportunities that are fun,” he said.


“I think going to a museum would be safe as long as a museum has prepared appropriate precautions,” suggests Dr. Norman Beatty, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of Florida. He adds that until the pandemic is under control, it would be prudent to avoid hands-on activities.

Dr. Arthur Lavin, an Ohio pediatrician and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that’s assuming you are in a place where there isn’t a lot of virus spreading in the community. “If there is lots of virus spreading, stay home … don’t go anywhere,” he advises.

“I was a little unsure but once we got here and I see all the things the museum is doing, I feel fine,” said Lily’s grandmother, Martha Riley.

While many museums remain shuttered, they have upped their virtual programming, including at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History. (The National Zoo and the National Air & Space Museum have reopened.)


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