Posted on 8 Comments

The Edison Museum

Lots of little bottles

I tend to avoid taking the kids to museums, as this is the dramatic kind of reaction I usually get.  But when Aidan came home from school and told me he was writing a biography report on Thomas Edison, I suggested we visit Edison’s laboratory museum.

It was an idea that was met with actual enthusiasm by my ten-year-old – something I honestly was not prepared for.   And when I mentioned the same to Eamonn, his response was “Thomas Edison?  He’s my favorite inventor!”

Who knew 1st-graders had favorite inventors?!

The drafting room

So we trekked the 35 minutes over to West Orange, New Jersey yesterday, parked half a mile away when we discovered it was also the day of their St. Patrick’s parade, and enjoyed a little self-guided tour punctuated with the muffled sound of marching bagpipe bands.

I highly recommend this as an outing for those of you with kids that are not into Museums with a capital M.  Admission is $7 for adults and free for children under sixteen, so it’s very affordable, and each person in your group is given a little gadget they can put up to their ears to hear information about the various rooms and buildings.

Outside the Black Maria

This gadget thing was the best. idea. ever.

My kids never lost interest in any of the exhibits because they were enjoying the ability to control the story.  The narration engaged them, had them looking around the room for particular objects, and laughing at amusing little anecdotes they heard.  The interactivity here was just the right amount, and it was key to their enjoyment of the tour.

The photography room

I will have to revise my opinion of visiting museums, if I can find other places that use similar technology.  These guys loved it.  More photos of our trip here, if you are interested.

The only down side to this entire experience? They Might Be Giants’ song “The Edison Museum” has been knocking around my brain for three days, and I may just lose my marbles if it goes on much longer.  Ack!


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Posted on 8 Comments

8 thoughts on “The Edison Museum

  1. Thanks for the museum idea. We were listening to the Magic Treehouse with the World’s Fair in Paris (with Edison)the other day. So this would appeal to them.

    My third grader has loved Benjamin Franklin for a few years now. 🙂

    Note to self: look up Franklin the next time we are in Philly!

  2. The personal audiotour devices were also a big hit with Nell in Italy–she had one at Pompeii (there were kid and adult versions of the English-language guide) and at the Coliseum, and they made all the difference in the world. I think she’s holding one of those things in most of our photos of those places! (Also remember that some museums and exhibits have podcast audiotours you can download before leaving home. Very cool.)

    If they ever want to complete their Edison tour, there’s also an Edison museum in Ft. Myers, Florida:
    .-= See Penny’s latest blog post: Burns Night =-.

    1. This tour had several versions, too, depending on the buttons you pressed on the doohickey. We listened to the Family Tour, until close to the end, when Eamonn entertained himself by pressing different numbers – I have no idea what he was listening to, but he had fun!

  3. I remember that place from my youth. The endless materials he used to try and find the right filament sticks with me.

    Have you taken the boys to the Franklin Institute yet? That’s the other one that sticks out to me as really interactive. Phil and I actually went there when we visited 2 years ago. Cause, well, I’m a sucker for museums…probably what being my father’s daughter has done to me.

    1. Ooh, I forgot about the Franklin Institute! I remember going there as a kid, and thought it was great. I’m sure it’s only gotten better with time… Definitely going to add that to my “things to do this summer” file.

  4. Wow, you obviously don’t get to museums that much! Audio tours have been pretty much standard at a lot of museums for the last few years. They had them at most of the major historical spots on our Mediterranean cruise last year, too.

    I remember visiting the Edison Museum as a kid (we lived pretty close to it), but they of course didn’t have the audio tours then — I think it was an actual human guide.

    1. I really don’t! The only other museum I’ve been to since the kids were born was a guitar museum that my nephew wanted to go to. The boys were interested for about five minutes before they were ready to leave.

      I went to the Edison Museum as a kid, too, and there was definitely a human guide. I remember the demonstration of the phonographs more than anything else.

  5. I remember being impressed by his “cat-nap” couch! I second the Franklin Institute — lots of hands on exhibits. I think that’s where I learned physics….

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