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Take the Kids: The Morris Museum

The kids can take classes, see art work, take in a show and get some hands-on play time with dinos, dollhouses and really cool rocks.


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All photos courtesy of Morris museum

Tucked away in a beautiful patch of woods off a busy main road in Morristown, the Morris Museum has a little bit of everything. Housed in a lovely old mansion, it’s an eclectic, charming place to visit that includes a ton of disparate things under one roof. Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip there with the kids.

Cost to enter: $10 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, free for kids under 3, pay as you wish the second and third Thursdays of the month from 4-8 p.m. Bank of America card members can get one free admission on the first full weekend of the month.

What it will really cost you: Parking is free if you plan to see a show, the ticket for the children’s theater are $10 for members and $12 for general admission, and for the regular theater range from $15-20 for students to $40-45 for general admission.

How much time you will need: Allow 1-3 hours. You’ll be able to see a lot of the museum in an hour, but there’s enough to do to fill up an afternoon, and if you’re seeing a show or going to another special event, make sure to allow yourself enough time and arrive at the theater a few minutes early in order to get great seats.

Food options: Pack a lunch if you’re going to be there in the middle of the day or for a long stretch of time. There’s Keurig coffee machine in the lobby and basic snacks  (chips, popcorn, cookies, candy, soda and water)  available in the gift shop, but no café offering actual meals.

When to go: Weekdays when school is in session, save for Mondays when the museum is closed, are less crowded than weekends.

What to bring: Though the museum is relatively compact, there’s still a lot of floor space to cover, so if you have a baby or toddler, bring a stroller so you don’t have to carry your child everywhere. The museum has two large elevators so it’s easy to navigate.

Best for ages: Though kids of all ages will find something they like here, the museum is probably most appropriate for kids 5-11 years old.

What you should see and do:

Instruments and Automata
The museum has a massive collection of rare and different instruments that your kids (and maybe even you) have probably never seen. Kids can program songs and play tunes. There are daily demos at 2 pm and they frequently offer Touch the Music sessions, which allow really little ones a chance to strum a violin or bang on an actual drum, instead of the Fisher-Price variety.

Mammals
There are plenty of examples of taxidermy on display, including a massive grizzly bear (it's huge!) and some other wild animals. You may need to read some of the descriptions, but the kids can learn a great deal about birds of prey.

Dinosaur Den
Here they can place a piece of paper over etchings of dino footprints and fossils and color over it with a pencil for their own sketch of a dinosaur print or fossil to take home. They can also touch a real dino egg, see some fossils and hear dino sounds. The exhibit aims to give kids a look at what their home state would have looked like 65 million years ago.

Model Trains and Railroads
It may not be as enormous as the Mega Model Train exhibit that recently passed through, but there is still a nice permanent collection of trains to amuse your kids. They can pull a whistle and play with the wooden trains.

Rocks and Minerals
The kids can touch some really neat looking geodes and crystals, and see a huge collection of rocks from around the world. But the highlight of this area is a small room where they can see fluorescent rocks glow-in-the-dark under UV lights.

Native American
In this well curated collection of artifacts from Native American tribes the kids can get a close look at pottery, carving and textiles, which are color-coded so you know what part of the country they are from.

The Dodge Room
Modeled to look like an actual Victorian-era home, there is a large collection of antique furniture and many paintings and sculptures, all dedicated to Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (daughter to Standard Oil tycoon William Avery Rockefeller Jr. ). The kids may not be as impressed as the grown-ups, but it is a lovely display.

Family Discovery Center
Underneath the theater lobby is something called the Family Discovery Center for hands-on creativity, where children can play with LEGOs, KEVA planks and other blocks in a variety of shapes and colors.There are also Imagination Playground foam blocks for kids to build with.  

Theater

The Main Stage offers adult shows, like the upcoming comedy show My Son, the Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy, as well as other performances throughout the year. There is also the Children's Theatre, which recently performed the highly interactive Seussology, and has upcoming shows featuring the original story of Beauty and the Beast and even The Magic of Sharks.

Current exhibits:

From June 12-September 16, stop by Stone to Gem, where the kiddos can learn about some of NJ’s natural beauties. Explore the process of refining precious and semi-precious stones like rubies, diamonds and emeralds, into gems.

Take a break from the interactive exhibits with Spheres of Influence: W. Carl Burger features the work of New Jersey native W. Carl Burger. Never before seen pieces will be on display, including watercolors, paintings, lithographs, drawings, collages. His artwork is on display from May 15-August 19.

Fashion Forwards: A Survey of Post WWII Fashion Accessories, on display from March 22-July 22, offers a peek into fashion during America’s Golden Age, an era of haute couture, soft lines and feminine embellishments.

For more information, visit morrismuseum.org.

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