If you haven’t been to the Please Touch Museum lately, there are two brand new interactive exhibits for kids to check out, the Bimbo Bakeries USA Bistro and Boboli Pizza Kitchen. They’ve also added fresh baked goods from Bimbo in the supermarket and bilingual signage.
Called the “Healthy Me, Healthy Family, Healthy Community” gallery, it’s a part of the museum’s strategic plan to reimagine play for kids. We asked Please Touch Museum President and CEO Patricia D. Wellenbach to tell us more about new offerings.
What are the overall goals of Healthy Me, Healthy Family, Healthy Community gallery initiative?
Healthy Me, Healthy Family, Healthy Community transforms one of Please Touch Museum’s most iconic permanent galleries, City Capers, into a gallery of six exhibit experiences where children and their families learn about how to make healthy choices for themselves, their communities and the world.
The gallery’s exhibits share a unified theme that goes beyond health as simply a physical condition to include lessons on financial literacy, urban sustainability, physical wellness and more. Its exhibits are also bilingual, which is a first for the Museum and sets a precedent for all future permanent exhibits.
Bimbo Bakeries USA Bistro and Boboli’s Pizza Kitchen are the first additions to the new exhibits. How do they offer healthier options?
Bimbo Bakeries USA Bistro invites children to make and create healthy choices in an imaginative restaurant environment, while Boboli Pizza Kitchen allows children to pull from the wide assortment of produce and protein options in the adjacent supermarket exhibit as toppings for their own wood oven pizza creations.
By creating opportunities for creative role play, the exhibits prompt communication and critical thinking around what a balanced diet might look like, how selecting certain foods can support growth and development, and how our decisions around health can impact ourselves, our communities and the world.
In the Bimbo Bistro for example, children can choose between making a sandwich with whole wheat or white bread, while in the Boboli Pizza Kitchen children and adults can consider why topping a pizza with broccoli or green peppers might make it more nutritious.
There is a revamped baked goods area in the supermarket. Generally, most baked goods such as white bread and pastries aren’t considered healthy. How did the museum approach this?
We want to provide children with experiences that will help them develop their early learning skills, including critical thinking and communication. In the supermarket, children are learning about making choices to create a balanced diet and discussing what that means. Yes, there are baked goods, but they sit alongside fruits and vegetables, proteins and other food groups that are necessary for strong physical and mental development.
What can we expect to see next?
We are so excited about what’s to come in the Healthy Me, Healthy Family, Healthy Community gallery over the next few years! We’re now in the design planning stages of its next exhibits, including an imaginative wellness center where children will learn about what good health looks like, a financial literacy exhibit where children will learn about basic money concepts, an indoor garden and renewable energy station to teach children about creating a sustainable environment, a learning lab with a focus on STEM programming, a community center with a literacy focus, and more. Our popular supermarket exhibit, which is part of the gallery, is also undergoing a reimagination to better meet the intellectual, social and emotional learning needs of 21st century children.
Vetri Community Partners recently did a pop up with hands on cooking demos featuring winter produce. Any other similar events coming up?
We will continue with our Vetri Community Partnership. Their hands-on cooking demonstrations have been very successful in engaging children and families in learning about how to prepare and enjoy healthy foods. We also have quarterly cooking demonstrations with our catering partner, Brûlée Catering, which are designed around exhibit and special programming themes.