Wonderscope offers interactive exhibits where children can use their imagination
An interactive children's museum where kids can learn, play and grow
5700 King St. is where Wonderscope, a children’s museum, calls itself home. Its location houses many different uniquely themed rooms that are available for children to dive in and make themseleves at home.
“It’s all free play and self-guided,” Foster said. “When you think of the word ‘museum’ you think of things to look at and not really touch, but we’re very much the opposite. We want everyone to come in and play with our toys, build stuff, make stuff in the art room and do imaginative play in the grocery store.”
The Director of Operations Matt Foster takes care of managing the facility, maintenance, people and exhibits. He said that Wonderscope is more than just a boring museum — it is full of many exhibits that build early childhood skills.
Wonderscope didn’t originally start with where it is now. Foster said it has transformed over the nearly 30 years it has been open.
“Wonderscope used to be two different museums,” Foster said. ”There was Wonderscope, and then there was the Children’s Museum of Kansas City. Eventually the two of them merged together and became Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City. There were two different locations: there used to be one in Kansas City, Kansas and then there was this Wonderscope here. They all smashed together and now we’re just this one building right here.”
Each room at Wonderscope is a different exhibit that provides children with experiences of different skills while having fun at the same time. Such rooms include a market and grocery store, a vet’s office, a baby nursery, golf ball room, art room, Wonders room and a gym.
“One of our most popular rooms is the farm to market,” Foster said. “It’s a little farm space where you can grow your little veggies and be in the barn. It makes its way into a farmers market, which then goes into a grocery store, so you can do all of your pretend grocery shopping. On more of the creative side we have a golf ball room; it’s our physics room where you can learn about momentums. And then we have a small Wonders room for kids under two to make sure that specific age group is taken care of as well.”
The Manager of Education Melissa Sneden Colwell has been working at Wonderscope for a little over a year and handles the guest services, programming and manages the floor. Colwell said she has worked with kids since she was 10 or 11 years old and couldn’t imagine working without them.
“I got an office job after graduation. I liked it, but I really missed the day to day work with kids,” Colwell said. “So, when I moved out here to Kansas City last fall I found a job posting at Wonderscope. I was really excited about it because I love working with kids, watching them learn and seeing how they go about learning. It’s been really great.”
Colwell’s favorite part of the job is interacting with the members and leading her weekly Music and Movement program.
“[The kids] usually come at pretty regular intervals, so I really get to know them super well,” Colwell said. “I get to see the kids grow and watch them develop language and social skills.”
According to Foster, Wonderscope has quite the future in store.
“We are actually building a new museum in 2019. We are going to be moving to the Red Bridge area of Kansas City, Missouri,” Foster said. “We’re going to have three times the space and a brand new state-of-the-art building with all sorts of exhibits. So, we’re really excited to do that in a couple years, and we are working towards growing into that space now.”