{Berlin} MACHmit! Children’s Museum

December 11, 2013

Kids in Museums, Germany

Berlin has several children’s museums, and yet until recently we had never visited any of them. Not because I have anything against children’s museums, but because there are so many great ‘regular’ museums to explore which are just fine for taking your kids to and which I want #MuseumBaby to fall in love with as much as I have. However, when his nursery was shut for a few days and he expressed a wish to go climbing, but the inclement weather prevented a trip to the playground, I’d heard of just the place to take him. A museum, of course.

Mach Mit Kinder Museum

The “MACHmit!” Children’s Museum, which translates to as much as “Join in!”, is located in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg inside the former Elias Church. It’s the use of the space itself that makes this such a wonderful place, but more on that in a moment. The museum doesn’t have a permanent exhibition, instead changing their exhibition themes at least once a year. We just caught the end of “Die Alten Römer und Wir” (The Ancient Romans and Us) which ran from January until this week. Now it’s all hands on deck to get the new exhibition ready for January, which will be all about fairy tales. Previous themes have included children’s rights, museums and memory, energy, dreams, and chocolate, amongst others.

Museum Kids Only Sign

Even though the Romans exhibition has now come to an end, let me tell you a bit more about our visit so you get an idea of what’s so special about this museum. When we first entered, it looked just like you might expect a ‘normal’ museum exhibition to look like. Concurrent with the theme, the space had been set up to resemble the Roman times – complete with a school, a public forum for speaking, a shop and even some mock up toilets. Activities included a magnetic map puzzle of the Roman Empire, various activities to learn about food and trade, a chalkboard to draw on, Latin ‘graffiti’ to match up with its German translations, and several building blocks activities to learn about housing, bridges and other construction. There was also the opportunity to dress up in a Roman toga (MuseumBaby wasn’t interested) and a small mirror maze, which isn’t related to the exhibitions as such but just a constant part of the museum.

Mach Mit Museum Roman Town

Mach Mit Museum Roman Shop

Mach Mit Museum Magnetic Map

Mach Mit Museum Chalkboard

After thoroughly exploring this Roman town, we exited the gallery only to stop in our tracks and marvel – we had emerged between two giant staircases in to the most wondrous space. Even #MuseumBaby let out a “Wow!” Up until this point, I hadn’t really given much thought to the fact the museum was located in a former church. The staircases lead to an upper gallery, with more displays and activities down each side, joined by a cafe at the far end. Here you can see the stairs with the lower and upper gallery in the background:

Mach Mit Museum Giant Steps

It’s when you turn around that the “Wow!” effect hits you, as you appreciate the full extent of what they’ve done with the space – two giant blocks, reaching up to the church ceiling, separated by a void and joined only by mesh enclosed walkways. In the background you can just see the cafe.

Mach Mit Museum Kletter Regal

What are these, you ask? Well, I’m a bit of a tease so I’ll keep the piece de resistance until the end. Let me tell you first about the other activities. On either side of the blocks, there were further displays covering aspects of Roman life and culture, such as architecture, mosaics, Roman numerals, alphabet and language, heraldry and music. Hands-on activities included building bricks, mosaic puzzles, memory games, music to listen to and books to read. In addition to this, there were six stations with rotating craft activities. We participated in making our own paper ‘laurel wreath’ – which #MuseumBaby gave a whole new interpretation to with his obsession for cars – and we also glued together a mosaic. Other craft stations that #MuseumBaby was too young for or not interested in included creating a mini Latin dictionary, whittling a whistle, making a lantern or a plaster cast of a Roman coin.

Mach Mit Museum Car Wreath

Mach Mit Museum Craft Activity

Okay, so back to those blocks in the middle. Well, they don’t strictly have anything to do with the various exhibition themes. In fact, some may argue they have nothing to do with a museum at all, but hey, the kids love them and that’s good enough to me. Who says you can’t have some fun in a museum?! And actually, they do have some displays right at the top, so you could say they are perhaps the world’s tallest display cases. But what am I talking about? Well, remember at the beginning, I mentioned #MuseumBaby’s request to go climbing? Together, these blocks and the joining walkways make up the “Kletter Regal” or, in English, “Climbing Bookcase”. And that’s exactly what it is, something that resembles a giant bookcase which kids can climb around inside. You have to go barefoot, and children under 5 must be accompanied by an adult.

Mach Mit Museum Climbing Frame

Mach Mit Museum Kletter Regal Oben

So, my verdict? We’ll definitely be going again, if only for the climbing frame. Though fairy tales also sounds like an exciting theme. Don’t let yourself be put off by the fact my review focuses on the Romans. The MACHmit! Children’s Museum is committed to making all their exhibitions full of interaction, discovery and exploration, so whatever the theme there will be plenty to do and create. And just for info, the cafe sold a selection of cakes, ice creams, and the obligatory sausages, as well as a variety of healthy snacks and the usual drinks you’d expect in a cafe. One word of warning – the toilets are miles away (or so it seems) in the basement, so be prepared to make a mad dash for it if your kid suddenly announces it needs to go NOW! The museum is open daily except for Mondays, and admission for everyone age 3 and over is 5.50 Euro with discounts for younger kids and disabled visitors, as well as family ticket available.

Mach Mit Museum Giant Chair

 

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5 Responses to “{Berlin} MACHmit! Children’s Museum”

  1. Elisa Says:

    Oh, how cool! It reminds me of the Children’s Museum on the West Side in Manhattan, that one also had some historical bits and so many activities! I too prefer to take the girls to regular museums – in my experience Natural History Museums are a hit for the entire family, no matter where they are located! But we also loved the Boston’s Children Museum, which we visited on two separate occasions when the weather wasn’t being very cooperative while we were visiting Boston.

    Love it!

    Reply

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