Michael's Museum: Magic in the Making

My seven year-old daughter Ellie likes to collect really random stuff. Sometimes when I am tidying up her room, I'll come across the stray top from a tube of chapstick or a trinket she got from a birthday party goodie bag. When she is not around, I sometimes throw these items away because it all seems like a bunch of junk to me. When she is around and suspects that I might toss something, she freaks out and launches into an explanation as to why this particular item is important to her and must be saved.

After meeting Michael Horvich at the Chicago Children's Museum last week, I've decided that I am not going to interfere in her quest to collect little trinkets that are important to her. I have a new appreciation for the idea of collecting stuff that is important to you (even if it isn't particularly important to me).

Kids are natural collectors. And I bet that your little collector will absolutely love Michael's Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures, a new permanent exhibit at the Chicago Children's Museum.

Trust me when I tell you that you have never seen an exhibit like beofre. This is truly a living exhibit because it it more about the man behind the collection than the actual collections themselves.

Over two years in the making, Michael's Museum features over 100 collections of treasures donated by founder and curator Michael Horvich. The collections include everything from plastic cows to bowling pins of various sizes and Native American pieces.

Visitors can enter this intimate space through one of three doors: one large, one small and one mouse-sized. And several times a week, Michael is actually at the exhibit welcoming visitors. Frankly, he is the most interesting part of the whole experience. He talked to us about how and why he started collecting and how his collections made their way from a room in his house to the Chicago Children's Museum. He even pointed out a little black and white wooden horse that he carved with his father -- his first collectible item.

My kids also really enjoyed that "I spy" coffee table where they could try to identify a list of objects hidden amidst hundreds of trinkets under a glass top. They also loved opening and closing some of the display cases and moving some of the pieces around themselves.

Check out the photo gallery to learn more about this unusual exhibit and then plan to stop by on your next trip to the Chicago Children's Museum.

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