Philadelphia Finds: Fairmount Waterworks Museum


We decided to take a family adventure on Saturday, but didn't have a clear idea of where we wanted to go. After a quick stop at Mannakeesh to grab lunch, we headed to Penn Park for a picnic. Several soccer games were going on, which kept both Merle and X entertained. We continued meandering along the Schuylkill River with the intention of going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but by the time we got there, we didn't feel like spending the money to go inside with a toddler nearing nap time. At this point I was desperate to go pee after a large almond latte, so we went into the Fairmount Waterworks Museum, thinking they would have nice restrooms. 

The museum did have clean bathrooms, but surprisingly the museum itself was great. They offered plenty of historical information about the nation's first public water distribution system, including a fascinating movie narrating the development of the system through time.  For younger visitors, they had plenty of interactive content. Merle and X's favorite exhibit was an interactive sand table that showed how rain fall impacts the landscape over time. It rained wherever you put your hand and the color representing the topography changed as a result. Merle was also a fan of the 'make it rain' box, which was just a box filled with scenery and when a button was pushed, small white plastic balls poured down from the top. Another fun section was an electronic counter of water usage. There was a series of large switches to denote ways someone uses water and with each switch, the electronic counter increased. Merle of course didn't understand what the numbers meant, but she loved pulling on the switches and a budding conservationist would enjoy the insight. For older children, they also offer an educational science lab with programming that's frequently updated. 

For a free museum, it was rich in content and the staff was extremely friendly. One caveat is that the museum is under ground and extremely warm. It was perfect for us after walking around for a couple of hours outside in the cold. In the heat of the summer, I could see how this could be less than ideal. Overall I would highly recommend visiting the Fairmount Waterworks Museum if you are looking for something free to do on a winter afternoon.






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