Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children's Museum

Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children's Museum Hot

4.0 (1)
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Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children's Museum

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27 9th St
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(434) 845-1888
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5.0  (1)
Physical Accessibility 
3.0  (1)
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Overall Quality 
Physical Accessibility 

Better than your average children's museum


Of the four Virginia children's museums I've been to with both my kids (the 13-year-old, who uses a wheelchair, and the 4-year-old, who doesn't), this was definitely the best for both of them. (The others were the Children's Museum of Richmond [main location], the Discovery Museum in Charlottesville, and the Explore More Discovery Museum in Harrisonburg.) For the smallest children, the biggest attractions will likely be the farm area and the giant building blocks (neither of which would probably be much fun for a non-mobile child). Our 4-year-old loved the 4-story climbing tower (obviously, completely wheelchair inaccessible, and my husband chased her around while I spent time with the 13-year-old). The museum features both plenty of things to interact with and text so that older kids (and adults!) can learn more. Areas the 13-year-old and I spent a lot of time included "Your Amazing Body," which has a walk-through heart and an "examining room" where a more mobile child can play doctor (but we had some fun looking at x-rays - I wish they had more than hands and feet, though!); the Plasma Pyramid, which is one of these thingies where you touch it and the electric, lightning-like lines go to your hand, but this one has the lovely feature that it covers enough of a wall that just about anybody at any height will be able to do it; the Native American area, which features a lot of information about archaeology; and the James River model, which honestly, is mostly too tall for someone in a wheelchair (there are a lot of step stools for small children who can stand), but we found a piece of it that was at about the right height for my daughter. I know my younger daughter also enjoyed the art opportunities on the first floor (which the 13-year-old and I didn't visit) and in the architecture section on the fourth floor. In general, the exhibits were in good working order; I saw a dark monitor in a dark room in the "Your Amazing Body" section, and we were disappointed that none of the electrical circuits that could be connected together seemed to work. Overall, I was impressed by the museum as one that works on multiple levels (both intellectually and physically).


One of the biggest accessibility challenges for this museum is getting up from the parking lot! The hill is very steep, and the ramp to the sidewalk on the museum side is also very steep. There is one accessible parking space on that side of the road and a couple more on the other side, where the ramp appeared to be more reasonable, but the hill is of course just as bad. The doors are not automatic, but are nice and wide. The museum's floors can all be accessed by a nice big elevator, although waiting times for it can be kind of long. There are restrooms on the second and fourth floors. The second floor one has multiple stalls and a generously-sized accessible stall on the end - maybe 6' x 8'? The fourth floor restroom is a good-sized single-seater and would be a great choice if you need more privacy. In the fourth-floor restroom, I noticed the sink pipes were wrapped, but the light switch was a standard-issue one placed fairly high, and the door kept trying to close on us as we were leaving (it was light so not a big problem, just annoying).

In general, the floor area is very accessible and you can get a wheelchair around well. One thing we did struggle with a bit was the lip on the walk-through heart - it's probably somewhere between 1/2" to 1". One really nice feature of this museum is that it has a number of things that cover large chunks of wall - pictures you can interact with, the Plasma Pyramid - so that people at all different heights can access them. There are also a lot more things on tables than your average children's museum (as is often the case, it's hard for me to comment on whether they were a good height for a wheelchair as my daughter's wheelchair is unusually tall).

Something to be aware of, though - on a busy day the noise level is awful! Having an opening through all the floors for the climbing tower means that you are dealing to some extent with noise from the other floors as well as the one you're on. Although my older daughter indicated that she liked the museum, she also indicated that she didn't want to come back, and I think the noise had a lot to do with that. However, the fact that several times we collided with a large, extra-noisy horde of kids (probably a birthday party) probably didn't help. If you or your child is sensitive to noise, your best bet would likely be a weekday - we went on the second Saturday of the month, which turns out to be the one day of the month they're open late and in retrospect, probably the worst possible choice for noise avoidance.
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