Let’s Go to the Museum: first visits to the “car museum”


As far as museums go, little gosling has taken to visiting repeatedly the ones concentrating on things that move: trains, trams, cars, planes. Whilst we’re yet to visit the tram museum (only open in the afternoons), we’ve seen the others at least twice each over the past months. Great opportunities for quality time together in an instructive, exciting, playful setting and for little ones to use energy. This is particularly true for us when wether makes us less inclined to spend time outdoors during the weekends.

The car museum (“Autoworld”) is accommodated in a big hall with plenty of space. This allows little gosling to run around, which is what he mostly does, on fast forward 😛 without much chance of knocking down fragile exhibits. It displays a varied collection of over 250 European and American automobiles from the late 19th century to the 1990s. It is notable for its collections of early and Belgian-produced vehicles and several limousines belonging to the Belgian royal family. Interestingly, there are corners displaying horse drawn carriages, as well as mechanical workshops and different engines. 

There’s also a corner dedicated to the French comics’ character, Michel Vaillant, featuring an F1 real size car maquette. This was obviously the highlight of our first visit. What can be better than getting into a car and pretending to drive? If one does not take into account climbing on to the wheels or trying to make them turn. Of course, there was time for drawing, snacking and reading a story.

First time around we looked at sizes of cars, wheels, steering wheels, comparing them. Most of all, we played at identifying their colours. The second time we went, he went ahead and we followed. He would stop in front of a car, pointing and asking: “What is this car called? How fast can it go?” Brand of the car, year of fabrication and, most importantly, the maximum speed it could reach. We compared the size of cars and their lights and identified the convertible ones (“this can only go in summer, it has no roof”). 

A temporary exhibition of racing cars attracted most of our attention. Little gosling loved the sound of the Italian brands . He was completely in awe with the big numbers I blurted out for the maximum speed they could reach. 

We hardly ever cover the entire museum in one visit, which is ok. The aim is to stay as long as he is enjoying the experience, but not long enough for him to get tired. The ideal duration would be around an hour, but we can hardly stick to it. Little gosling gets overly excited about trips to the museum and insists on seeing everything.

Make time for snacks and reading

After the initial burst of energy and running around, it is pretty quickly that I hear “Do you have something to read? Do you have to eat?” We never leave home without snacks. I find it important we make some time half-way through the visit for a snack break. As a result, we avoid tiredness and hunger setting in and communication difficulties. We usually take along a combination of fruits (banana or bite sized strawberry or apples), nuts (cashew, pistacchio, peanuts), cubes of cheese and salami and bretzels or corn cakes. In less restrictive times, we take advantage of the museum cafeterias to enjoy a hot chocolate and a biscuit or a sandwich. 

“Tia Isa wants a car”

Equally, I always carry picture books in my bag when we go out. We never know when we may feel like reading ;). The first time we read “Tia Isa wants a car”. This, as it turns out, is the our only story featuring a car.

I loved the story the first time I heard it read aloud by Meg Medina on Julie’s Library podcast. An immigrant family: aunt, niece, uncle, working to support their loved ones back at home, on the island. Reminiscing about their house by the beach and dreaming about the day, soon, when they will be all together again in their adoptive place. The aunt wants a car, green like the ocean, with wings like a swooping seagull, to take them all to the beach. Little gosling loved that idea: to get a car to take us to the beach! The niece secretly starts doing small chores in the neighbourhood, to put aside money to help her.

It’s a wonderful, heartwarming story about family, separation, longing, nostalgia, kindness, community, effort, the value of work, joy. A touching introduction into the life of immigrants. An emotional perspective of being far from the loved ones, whilst constantly having them present, in mind and hearts. I found it incredibly moving that first thing they did upon getting into the car was sticking a photo of the entire family. 

We definitely need more stories featuring cars and/or driving. And someday soon, we’ll watch “Cars” together :P. 

Little gosling loves to spend time in the driver’s seat of our car, “Zambilica” (in English, “small hyacinth”). He emphatically tries to turn the steering wheel and touches the commands, pretending he is driving. This is his ritual for a few minutes every time we come back from a car ride. When he grows up, he would like to drive us around, with daddy and I taking turns sitting in front, next to him. 

Leave a Comment