TO YOUNG KIDS, THE INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS of Rock Hill’s new Main Street Children’s Museum are an exciting indoor playground where they (and their imaginations) can run wild, but savvy parents, teachers and museum officials know there’s a hidden educational purpose behind all the fun and games.
A partnership between the City of Rock Hill, York County and the Culture & Heritage Museums (CHM), the colorful new facility opened in December 2010 and aims to nurture the developmental skills of pre-school kids, says Owen Glendening, deputy director of interpretation for CHM.
“The early childhood educators here have told us that our community needs a place for creative play to help our children be better prepared for school,” he says.
Housed in the former People’s National Bank in downtown Rock Hill, the museum manages to carry out its educational mission with a sense of fun. Even the classic interior features like the bank’s stately marble columns have been incorporated into the displays. The massive old vault, for example, is now the dress-up room.
The exhibits are all targeted to children ages 6 and under, though parents and older siblings are welcome, too. All displays are interactive and permanent, because “young children like sameness. It’s a comfort to them to come back time and again to the same environment,” Glendening says.
“Because they’re growing and developing, that same safe environment provides them a changing experience, letting them do different things and using their new skills as they mature.”
If the museum has a certain “pop” to it, that’s because it’s based on the artwork of the late Vernon Grant, the nationally renowned illustrator and Rock Hill native perhaps best known for his creation of Snap, Crackle and Pop, the characters on the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies box.
Grant’s heirs donated a large collection of his illustrations to CHM and local children chose various scenes as inspirations for the new museum’s main exhibits, including a ship, a railroad, a tree house and small houses in the shapes of a pumpkin and a castle.
Location: 133 East Main St., Rock Hill
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday.
Admission: $5 per person; under age 1 is free. CHM members pay $3 per person. Pre-registered groups pay $3 per person.
Details: Call (803) 329-2121, or visit their website