Angela Nabors’ boys were a blur of motion. At the Imagine Children’s Museum Wednesday, they jumped and grabbed for colorful scarves shooting from the Air-Mazing Laboratory’s maze of transparent tubes.
Little brother Arden, 20 months old, stayed close to their mom as Isaac, 9, Eli, 7, and Ezra, 4, joined other kids in the fun. It was the museum’s first day of welcoming visitors in more than a year.
It’s not open for all — not yet. The museum at 1502 Wall St. in downtown Everett is open to members only, at least through June 20. Entry is by reservation only through the museum’s online time-ticketing system. There are two-hour sessions Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Masks are required for those 3 and older. No walk-ins are being admitted.
The museum has about 5,000 memberships, said Kimberlee Valvick, its communications director. There’s good news for those wondering about members’ paid-for time when they couldn’t visit during the pandemic. As of June 2, memberships have been extended for the number of days that would have been remaining when the museum closed March 13, 2020.
Imagine Children’s Museum Executive Director Nancy Johnson is well aware that the group most served — children under age 12 — is the demographic not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.
“We want people to feel comfortable and safe,” Johnson said. “It’s that hard struggle. We absolutely want to protect our children.” Yet, she said, “we have heard from so many families” whose kids have been challenged by the past year’s shut-downs.
“The early years are children’s most formative years,” Johnson said. As with other types of outings, even school, “families can make the choice” about whether or not to stay home.
The museum is in the midst of a four-floor expansion project, due to be finished in 2022, that will nearly double its size. On Wednesday, the museum was “at capacity” for the 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. session, said Quinn Schell, director of operations. That number may vary, depending on the state’s phased reopening plan.
Interactive items are limited per session and are exchanged between breaks for sanitizing, according to the museum website. A half-hour break between sessions allows for sanitizing exhibits. And the museum is professionally cleaned every evening after closing.
The Tall Timbers Rooftop Adventure is a 9,149-square-foot outdoor space with a unique view of the historic Monte Cristo building across Wall Street. Open-air playthings include a freshly renovated Dino Dig next to a model Stegosaurus, oversized musical instruments, a giant checkerboard and a lofty climbing structure.
On the main floor, the Imagine Theatre has a new look, and a big screen lets pint-sized performers see themselves in action.
Nabors, the Arlington mom whose boys were catching scarves, home-schools her children. During COVID closures, the family missed the places they normally go for fun and educational enrichment. She’s glad libraries are open again, along with the museum.
Museum members Paul and Diane Hanley, of Duvall, brought their 3-year-old grandson, Rainier, to play Wednesday. “We’ve gone to lots of museums,” said Paul Hanley, adding that this one is among the best.
Not part of the members-only days, but soon to be starting up again, are several special programs, Valvick said. There are group sessions for Grand Families, grandparents raising kids; Sensory Time, for children with autism; and Dream Big, a program for those with an incarcerated family member.
Johnson said the long closure was a huge financial hit for the museum. “We’re hoping people will buy lots of new memberships,” she said.
“It’s just nice to get something back to normal,” said Stanwood’s Michelle Reynolds. She was on the rooftop with her children, Lyla, 5, Isabelle, 6, and 10-year-old Jack. “I think they just missed being able to do things,” Reynolds said as Lyla tried out the giant xylophone.
“It’s nice to see the parents playing,” Schell said. “They needed this as much as the kiddos.”
Julie Muhlstein: firstname.lastname@example.org
Open for members
The Imagine Children’s Museum, 1502 Wall St. in Everett, is now open for members only. Reservations required, available only through the museum website’s time-ticketing system. Two-hours sessions available Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 20. Masks required for ages 3 and older. No walk-ins. Information: imaginecm.org.