Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a downtown non-profit children’s museum within Riverfront Park, housed in three historic houses with a 20,000-square-foot outdoor discovery center. Its mission is to provide innovative and stimulating educational experiences that ignite children’s natural curiosity.

Kids were eager to don lab coats, look at ultrasound images, and weigh themselves as they tried out a digital thermometer and stethoscope at the All About Me health room grand opening. Read on to learn more.

The Outdoor Discovery Area

Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), children’s museum within Riverfront Park in Salem, Oregon. Founded in 1989, it features 16 hands-on STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) exhibits, a 20,000-square-foot Outdoor Discovery Area, field trips, STEM Workshops, membership opportunities, summer camps, and outreach programs.

The Outdoor Discovery Area is an adventure playground where kids can explore the world around them, role-play kid-sized careers, and discover new things about their environment. Climb the world’s largest Erector Set tower, play marimbas in the musical ensemble deck, or become captain of a paddle-wheeler as you experience a true sense of adventure!

The Hugh Morrow Collection is a special collection of reference and circulating materials focused on Salem, the Mid-Willamette Valley, and Oregon history. It is located on marked shelving in the adult nonfiction section on Floor 1 of the main library. The library also offers cultural passes that allow patrons free entry to local museums and other educational venues.

The Erector Set Tower

In this 20,000 sf outdoor discovery center kids learn about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math with hands-on activities that encourage imagination. The highlight is the giant outdoor Erector Set Tower, which is 52 feet high with a maze and two giant slides.

The children’s museum is named after Salem native A.C. Gilbert, who invented the Erector Set, American Flyer trains, and Mysto Magic sets, and held more than 150 patents. It opened in 1989 at 116 Marion Street NE inside the Riverfront Park.

The museum has since expanded to include the Josiah Parrish House and the Rockenfield-Bean House on the museum site, as well as the 20,000 sf outdoor discovery center. The children’s museum also offers camps, birthday parties, and onsite classes. The mission of the museum is “to inspire children to learn through creative play. A must-see place!

The Bubble House

The Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem OR is a private, nonprofit children’s museum within Riverfront Park in downtown Salem. The Museum provides innovative and stimulating educational experiences that spark children’s natural curiosity. It is composed of 16 hands-on exhibits, an Outdoor Discovery Area, camps, field trips, and membership opportunities all within three historic houses.

One of the best features of this fun museum is the Bubble House where kids can create large and small bubbles to their heart’s content. After a flood forced the previous Bubble Room to close, the new space called Bill’s Bubble Factory has been opened and is a blast for all.

The Museum also features the All About Me room where kids can learn about health and medicine with fake computers, lab coats, and kid-safe versions of medical equipment. Kids will have a blast at the Let’s All Play Place playground sponsored by Salem Health and Diagnostic Imaging of Salem. The museum has recently added new accessibility ramps to the outdoor area.

The Playground

The play area at Gilbert House, named for the inventor of the Erector set, has been revamped. New features include a maze that’s more accessible to kids with varying motor skills, a water pump and sand area for kids who might get overstimulated by traditional playground structures geared only toward running, and a sensory space.

Parents like Sabrina Dent and Cassie Gibead say they are impressed with the museum’s reopening. “Our kids love it,” Gibead says. “It’s really cool.”

The Salem Public Library is a member of the Community Connections Regional Libraries System and offers a variety of specialty passes that give you access to local museums, historical sites, and other cultural venues. Cultural passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be picked up at the Salem Public Library’s Main Library at 585 Liberty St. SE, near the Floor 1 Ask Here Desk. Browse a list of the available passes here. Click here for the next blog post.

Driving directions from A+ Exterior Cleaning to Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Driving directions from Gilbert House Children’s Museum to Willamette Heritage Center