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Photo Joel Checkley, Melbourne Museum

A day at the museum as a four-year-old

Mum and I are at the museum to see the new Children’s Gallery. I run past the giant blue whale skeleton. Usually when we come I like to look into his mouth but today I want to see the new things. Up ahead I can see a train, like Thomas but it is red so it is actually more like James. I’m a bit sad it is behind glass but Mum says they have to look after it because it’s really old.

Then I notice there is a tunnel next to it, I can go in there and there are really cool train sounds. Whoooooo! And it really sounds like a train is coming through the tunnel. There are lights that go on and off too. It isn’t dark though. Mum buys a coffee from the café. I usually get really bored when she does this but it’s okay because at the end of the tunnel there are train carriages I can climb on. Mum is talking to a lady while I play, there are some furry things to touch on the walls, and spinning things.

A lady tells Mum she can’t take food and drinks into the next room because the ants will come and eat the crumbs and then the ants will eat the animals they have on display. But it’s okay because there is a place for me to play while she drinks it. There are drawings on a wall; when I touch them a picture made of lights comes on. I touch a rocket picture and a rocket made of lights zooms up the wall. A girl touches a butterfly and coloured butterflies fly around the wall. There is a dead echidna behind glass there. If it was alive it would eat the ants.

Mum has finished her coffee so we go to the Big Box. There are some big ropes that we pull together, and they make big circles spin around up high. Then I look up and see a really big climbing net cubby. It is a bit tricky to climb up but I’m good at climbing so it’s easy for me. “Hi Mum!” I yell down to her.

I climb down a tunnel and then back down to the ground. There is a torch stuck to a stick that I shine on animals. The animals light up and make their noises. There’s some frogs and some birds. I like the owls best.

Through a window I can see lots of lights and hear music so I go and see what it is. There is a big cupboard with lots of animals, about 100. Mum shows me the spotty ones on one side, and the stripy ones on the other side. I like the leopard best. Then I stand and watch kids dancing and chasing lights. It looks fun but it’s really busy and some of the kids are a bit noisy so I don’t want to go in. Mum says we can come back another day and play there.

We lie down on a cushion and look up at a TV on the roof of a cubby. There is a man telling stories about the stars. Mum says he is an Aboriginal man. I like the story of the bird kicking the dirt to make shooting stars.

Mum says it is time to go home but we can come back next week. She says they have a sandpit where I can dig up a dinosaur skeleton outside and a big bush discovery area. That must be where the ants live. Maybe the echidna came from there too. I will find out next time.

Alex Price worked on the redevelopment of the Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery for babies to five-year-olds at Melbourne Museum. She is now the Museums Victoria outreach program manager.

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