I was recently tipped off to this gem of a museum by a friend. I only wish I had heard about it when I first moved here five years ago b/c it would have been one of our go-to spots long before now. The Brunk Children’s Museum (located within the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville) is a charming interactive hands on museum for kids of all ages (but probably best suited for kids 9 and under). I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the appeal of this place, but any concerns were alleviated as soon as Little and I walked in.
The museum is set up so that kids can experience the journey of the Swedish immigrants as they voyaged to a new land more than 100 years ago. Upon entering the space, kids put on one of the many pinafores that are hanging on pegs and explore a replica of a Swedish farmhouse.
They can pick wooden vegetables from the garden and gather eggs for their dinner. When they’re ready to begin their journey across the ocean they board the 20 foot long replica immigration ship.
Once the ship has docked, they can explore a pioneer log cabin in the new world and pretend to catch fish in the stream for dinner and ride their horse to town for supplies.
If that journey doesn’t satisfy their curiosity, the museum just installed a spaceship exhibit honoring the Swedish-American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was the second person to ever set foot on the moon. ( Fun fact: The Buzz Lightyear character in Disney’s Toy Story was based on him).
Given that the children’s floor is not that big we spent a disproportionate amount of time here. After an hour and a half, I had to negotiate our departure by bribing Little with a stop at The Swedish Bakery (two blocks away) which is known for their butter cookies.
I think what I loved best about this museum is that it’s a low commitment activity. It’s very compact so I didn’t have to worry about racing after her like I do in many of the other museums in the city. And because of the compact nature of the exhibit she was able to spend time really exploring everything on display as opposed to running from one gallery to another and not focussing on much of anything.
As we had such a positive experience here I was searching their website to see what sort of events they might have, and I’m excited that on Saturday Dec 14th & Sunday December 15th they’re having their annual holiday family event: Breakfast with TomTen (Santa). Advanced reservations are required.
Another tip I heard was that the restaurant next door, Ann Sather’s has some of the best cinnamon rolls in town (but due to time constraints we had to save this treasure for our next visit).
Hours for the children’s museum:
Monday – Thursday: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Friday : 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Museum members and children under one year-old are free
5211 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640