If there is one thing we have an abundance of in this area, it’s museums. And I love that. There is so much history and culture in this region, and we love exploring it. For me especially, being from the other side of Massachusetts, I learn a lot when we go to museums in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. I have a lot to catch up on – especially if I plan to be ready to help my son with local history school assignments when he gets older!
One place that has been on my list for quite some time was The Springfield Museums. And we finally made the visit after only two years of planning!
So why did it take us over two years, you ask? Well, to start, we bought a Groupon deal over TWO years ago. I had every intention of cashing in that deal so we could visit the Springfield Museums. Life got the better of us and my Groupon expired. Then they opened the Seuss Museum and I kept saying, “okay, now this will be worth going for with my son”. Yet I kept putting it off. I apparently just needed the right motivation to finally make this trip.
That’s right. There is a temporary exhibit at the Springfield Museums featuring everyone’s favorite number one blue engine, Thomas. Of course, there was so much more to see and do at the museums now that we were finally here. So let me share our great visit to the very popular Springfield Museums!
Coming from Connecticut, you may have to drive a little distance to Springfield. For us, it’s literally right over the border. And we drive this way quite often. So I am pretty familiar with going into Massachusetts. However, Springfield always overwhelms me. It’s quite funny because I can drive through Hartford with no issue but Springfield always messes me up. And naturally, even with the GPS and Waze running, I got lost. Thankfully, MGM is open and the highway construction is over, but I still managed to miss my turn and had to drive around a little bit to find my way. They offer a pretty straight forward set of directions on the Springfield Museums website but you should be fine following your GPS. Unless you’re like me…
Free parking is available in their lots on Edwards Street, as well on State Street across from the City Library (check out their map of parking here). We found parking at the Edwards Street lot right next to the main entrance. It was actually the last spot, so we lucked out. They have a second lot right across the street from the main entrance (next to the Springfield history museum) and I noticed that one was empty when we arrived. So if we hadn’t found the first spot, we would have been able to still find great parking. And in the city, free parking is something you definitely want to take advantage of!
From the parking lot, you’ll want to head to the Welcome Center which is facing Edwards Street and is the front of the Science Museum. The Springfield Museums are open daily for most of the year. Hours can vary so it’s best to check their website before visiting. For the rest of the summer in 2019, they will be open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the rest of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One Admission = Five Museums
The Springfield Museums are plural for a reason. There are five of them. Your single admission ticket grants you admission to FIVE separate museums all within the Quadrangle. This includes the Springfield Science Museum, The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, and The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
Current admission (2019) to the museum is $25 for adults, $16.50 for seniors and college students, $13 for children ages 3-17, and free for children under 3. You can find deals all around for lower admission including library discount passes, reciprocal museum admission, free admission on certain days for Bank of America customers and much more. Springfield residents also receive free admission on any given day.
The admission desk is located inside the welcome center. Once you’ve paid your admission, they will give you a wristband that allows you to move freely between all the museums.
You will also be given a pass for a set time to enter the Seuss Museum. Due to its popularity and small size, there is a limit on the number of people allowed inside the Seuss Museum. I chose a 1 p.m. admission and kept my ticket for that in my pocket until we were ready to head over. On busier days, these timed tickets are pretty important at preventing overcrowding and there are a limited number of tickets released. If you want to guarantee admission to the Seuss Museum, you can purchase tickets online ahead of time and save your time slot. Otherwise, it is first come, first serve. Fortunately on the day we visited, it was not busy so we did not have to worry about missing out.
As I mentioned, there are five museums included in admission. You can definitely visit all five in one day. However, I felt it was smart to avoid the art museums with my five year old that day since I was not sure how well-behaved I could keep him. He’s a bit of a wild animal lately.
So, we breezed by the Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts from the outside. The Art Museum does feature the Hasbro Games Art Discovery Center with hands-on art activities. If you feel like your child would do well in an art museum, I would definitely recommend checking that out!
We decided to focus on the other three museums that day instead:
And the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.
Springfield Science Center
My original plan was to save the Science Center for last since it was where you will find the temporary Thomas exhibit. Unfortunately, there were signs everywhere. And he saw them.
So from the welcome center, we headed right up the stairs to the Science Center.
We basically zoomed through this enter museum at lightning speed in search of Thomas. Two hours were spent in this museum, and of that, about an hour and 45 minutes was devoted to Thomas.
There were dinosaurs.
And some cool geology exhibits including geodes and earthquake simulators.
A planetarium and space room.
And African Hall with really neat animal exhibits.
Downstairs we even discovered fish and other live animals.
But my child has a one-track mind. Literally. So once we found that Thomas exhibit on the second floor; well, let’s just say I made myself comfortable!
Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is a temporary exhibit that will be set up in the Science Center from now until September 8, 2019. The exhibit is not only fun and exciting for your biggest Thomas fans, but it is also full of great STEM learning activities.
We climbed aboard Thomas and learned all about how a train works, and flipped levers to make noises from the brakes and steam whistle.
They had a small replica of the Sodor Steamworks with Victor on site to help repair the trains.
Of course, he needed our help to fix Percy. So my boy got to work filling Percy with coal and water, and replacing his wheels and lights.
They had a cute little photo op and you had the option to send the picture to your email account.
Of course, your little engineers could play in this soft play area with the baby Thomas and Friends.
Over on the other side of the room, they had a ticket booth where you could sell train tickets; a clock to determine the train’s arrival times, and a small replica of Knapford Station with train cars, luggage and dress up so you could pretend to be a conductor and passenger on board a train.
They also had a small seating area with videos about the history of Thomas the Train and how the toys are designed, along with history about Thomas the Train on display.
A large train table finished off the room. This is basically where my child stayed the entire time.
I’m pretty sure if we stayed in this room the whole time, he would have considered it the best day ever. It took a lot to coax him out of there, and as you can see, it meant that we rushed through everything else. He did stop and enjoy a few other things but I knew that Thomas would be on his mind the whole time. As you can only imagine, we had to come back to this exhibit before we left for the day. If only this was a permanent exhibit, we may have just had to have purchase a membership to the Springfield Museums!
Museum of Springfield History
The second museum on our list was the Museum of Springfield History.
When we visited last month, we caught the tail-end of a special exhibit: Toytopia. I absolutely loved this exhibit. It had so many toys that were bringing back memories for me left and right. Like the BIG piano. Connect the Dots. Memory. Pacman Video Game. I could have spent the whole day in that room.
Unfortunately, this exhibit is gone now but the museum has a permanent exhibit, Hasbro Gameland and some of those fun games are there at all times.
The museum also houses a collection of antique cars and motorcycles between two floors.
They also have two Granville Brothers aircrafts hanging from the ceiling.
Some of the history in the museum was a little beyond my boy’s years so we glanced past it, but the museum is home to a Smith & Wesson Gallery of Firearms History, Made in the Valley collection, a Civil War exhibit and more.
As usual, my son and his one track mind found the train exhibit at the front entrance to be the most interesting thing ever so he spent most of his time watching this model train go round and round. This is train mom life.
The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
The newest addition to the Springfield Museums is the Seuss Museum. The museum opened in 2017 and is a homage to Springfield native, Dr. Seuss.
When you first enter the museum, you’ll want to have your passes ready to hand over to the person at the front desk. We were a little early for our reserved time slot but since the museums were not too busy, we were able to head in.
The first floor is devoted to the Seuss stories and is a complete children’s playland. My first impression when I walked in was complete awe. I honestly felt like I stepped into a Seuss book. It was kind of crazy. It’s hard to explain the feeling but let’s just say they did a REALLY good job at bringing his books to life.
There was plenty to do including The Seuss Bakery play area, an interactive smart board, light bright, Legos and much more.
Of course, no visit to the Seuss Museum would be complete without a visit with the Cat in the Hat!
The upstairs of the museum is dedicated to the life and history of Dr. Seuss himself. This is definitely more appreciated by the older crowd (us parents that is) as my son zoomed in and out rather quickly. As such, I did not get to look around the upstairs at all!
On the lower level of the museum, there is an art room with hands-on activities called Cat’s Corner. They have an area for storytime as well as several tables to work on the craft of the day (today they were making elephant ears).
The Dr. Seuss Museum was done amazingly well. I though it came out phenomenal and is such a true dedication to a Springfield legend. This was probably the most kid-friendly of all the museums, and had it not been for my son’s obsession with the Thomas exhibit, we would have spent a lot longer here. However, he was constantly ready to go back to Thomas and as such, we zipped through this museum as well. See why I was hoping we would do the Thomas exhibit last?
The Quadrangle & The Sculpture Garden
We could not come to the Springfield Museums and not enjoy the outdoor area!. The museums are set upon the Quadrangle, a small but beautiful park in the urban landscape. It’s definitely a nice retreat. We actually packed our lunch that day and took the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy our picnic on one of the benches in the Quadrangle. Worth noting, if you want to enjoy lunch out, the Springfield Museums does have an indoor cafe on site, Blake House Cafe, with great fare including a kids menu.
The Quadrangle is the place to be for most of the big events held at the Springfield Museums including their Christmastime Lighting event. It’s also the home to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. You’ll want to make sure to visit this while here. The Sculpture Garden is free to check out – so even if you are not here for the museums, you can enjoy this amazing piece of Springfield history.
We loved this cute photo op!
We had an amazing time finally checking out the Springfield Museums. I had to ask myself what took us so long to finally get here but it worked out in the end since we got to check out two amazing temporary exhibits. From my understanding, they tend to house some really cool temporary exhibits all the time, in addition to their awesome permanent exhibits. So no matter when you visit, you will have a great time. If this has been on your list, it’s time to go!
This about sums it up…
21 Edwards Street – Springfield, Massachusetts
Monday–Saturday: 10 am–5 pm
Sunday: 11 am–5 pm
Members – FREE
Adults – $25.00
Seniors – $16.50
College Students – $16.50
Children(3-17) – $13.00
Under age 3 – Free
Many local town libraries offer reduced admission with their museum pass. Make sure to check with your town library to see if this is offered! There additional offers for Bank of America customers, Springfield residents, reciprocal museum members and more. For more discounts, click here.
- Free Parking!
- Five Museums for the price of one including a science center, a history museum, two art museums and the Seuss Museum.
- Stroller Friendly
- Handicapped-accessible (elevators available in the museums)
- Bathrooms and Changing Stations
- Gift Shop
- Cafe on Site
- Special events throughout the year – check their website for details
- Changing special exhibits