Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta, a museum and playspace just for children ages two through eight, is located in downtown Atlanta adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park. Attractions in the immediate include the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, the Georgia Dome and Philips Arena. Many other attractions in the downtown and Midtown areas are only minutes away by rapid transit or car. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has three train stations and numerous bus lines serving the area.
In 2003, just before Imagine It! opened, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted the fact that Atlanta was "known as the only American city its size without one of these educational fun factories.'' Since then, the city has embraced the museum, which receives about 180,000 visitors a year. Imagine It! is a non-profit educational organization "deeply committed to the importance of play and its importance to the development and lives of all children,'' according to the museum's website. At the museum, children have a hands-on, interactive, safe and fun place to play and learn.
Imagine It! features five permanent exhibits and three rotating exhibits a year. The permanent exhibits are:
Fundamentally Food - An area where children learn the basics of food production, transportation, shopping and cooking
Let Your Creativity Flow - Painting on the wall, sand sculpting, dancing and other expressive activities go on here
Tools for Solutions - Children must manipulate a rolling ball using a variety of tools
Leaping into Learning - Splash tables and tree houses await younger visitors in this area
Crawl Space - For crawlers and early walkers, an area with soft toys and padding blocks for climbing and exploring
In 2009, the three rotating exhibits were The Amazing Castle, in which children got to explore a castle and interact with the characters who might live there; Exploring Trees Inside and Out, in which children could crawl around inside an oversized tree and discover its inner workings; and Curious George: Let's Get Curious!, which used science, math and engineering to solve problems.
In addition to their exhibits, the museum offers live interaction throughout the day. The Imaginators, a troupe of performers and educators, read stories, enact plays related to a theme in the museum, play music and dance with children. The museum also offers day camps, music classes and other workshops for various interest groups.
An important part of the museum's mission is to make sure that all children have access to the Imagine It! experience. To further this mission, the museum has Target Free Days one day a month, during which children may visit the museum free of charge. The Imagine It! Express is a bio-diesel bus that will pick children up whose schools cannot afford to take them to the museum. Finally, the Imaginators will take their shows on the road and go out to schools, although this service is not free of charge.
Internet reviews of Imagine It! are mostly positive, although several there are several recurring negatives in the comments. Many visitors think it is overpriced at $11 and that it could be bigger. On the other hand, one woman says, "My 18-month-old son LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this place! ... for $11 it was a great deal.'' The large groups of schoolchildren during weekdays bother some visitors, and others complain that the space is frequently a mess. However, most parents say that, despite their own concerns, their children had a great time.