The Thinkery: Austin’s new children’s museum is a visual and interactive delight – and a great place for your next event

The Thinkery, Austin’s new children’s museum, is a paradise for young and elementary-aged children, as well as a unique and creative event venue for adults. It would make a great setting for a holiday gathering.

The bright, colorful and light-filled museum opened in December 2013. It’s a 40,000-square-foot building in the Mueller neighborhood that focuses on “STEAM” learning – science, technology, engineering, art and math, with a host of interactive activities where kids can splash, climb, paint and more.

We spent an enjoyable morning recently at The Thinkery, which is next to Mueller Lake Park off Airport Boulevard in East Austin. It’s a short drive from downtown and there is plenty of parking at the adjacent garage.

The impressive outdoor playscape is the first thing you see, and the morning we went dozens of children were climbing on it, shrieking with delight. This area is called “Our Backyard,” and also features a gentle stream where kids can play (this is a very popular area, and parents are advised to bring a change of clothes for their children in case they get wet.) Several toddlers were laughing as they competed to see who could make the biggest splash with their feet.

Once we purchased our tickets, we began exploring the museum. The most impressive space was the large first-floor Innovator’s Workshop, a 2,500-square-foot room. It’s filled with interactive exhibits, materials and tools, particularly related to electronics and woodworking. A high ceiling decorated with tubes of electric light and plenty of natural light make this an attractive, modern space.

Another popular water play area can be found indoors: a place called Currents, where children can get wet and have fun at 12 different hands-on activity stations. Currents teaches children about the connection between water and sound. The museum provides smocks and Crocs for the kids to wear, but they can still get pretty wet here, so be ready.

Bloom is an attractive, garden-themed area on the second floor designed for infants and toddlers. Story Nook holds the always-popular story time events.

Light Lab is another interactive area where children can explore the interplay of color, light and shadow. They can draw on the walls with laser lights, and build light structures using Lego-like mini blocks with LEDs.

Renting the Thinkery

There are a variety of rental options available. You can rent the entire museum for your off-site event, just the main floor or just the second floor. Activities can be facilitated in the downstairs galleries. It’s also possible to rent the Program Rooms on the second floor if you have a smaller group.

Outdoor spaces are available too. You can rent the outdoor courtyard and/or the “Our Backyard” area, perfect for Austin’s mild winter evenings.

Contact RVE if you’re ready to hold your next event at the Thinkery.

Photo courtesy of thinkeryaustin.org