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Museum FAQ Menu

HandsOn
Have a question? Check out our frequently asked questions below. Or, give us a call at 360-956-0818 ext. 0.
What is the WSECU - Inspired Learning for All - Initiative? 
This new partnership will allow us to expand our mobile educational programs, increase subsidized field trips for schools serving low-income student populations, and offer FREE admission to any family receiving Washington State basic food assistance through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card!

Benefits for all WSECU members: 10% discount on all museum memberships purchased at the front desk -  and - "WSECU Wednesdays" with 50% admission on the first Wednesday of each month. Just show your WSECU card! 
        
What is the targeted age range for the museum?
Exhibits are ideally designed for children age birth to ten. 

What if we can’t afford to pay admission?
If your family is unable to afford a museum membership, you may qualify for a Free or Reduced Admission or Membership if you are:
  • Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch Program
  • Receiving any other form of public assistance
  • Having difficult financial circumstances
As part of the WSECU - Inspired Learning for All initiative, show your Washington State EBT card & ID at the front desk for Free Admission. Sponsored memberships are made possible by the generosity of our Member Families and Museum Donors. Sponsored memberships are good for up to six months and may be renewed. To apply for a Sponsored Membership, ask for an application at the Front Desk. Please call the museum at (360) 956-0818 if you have any questions.

Why do you charge for adults?
The museum encourages interactive play between children and their adults. Your family's admission only covers about 50 percent of the cost of your visit, and we raise the other 50 percent through grants, sponsorships and donations.

Can anyone just come in? What about tours of the museum?
Anyone is welcome in the museum as long as they are accompanied by a child. We have a strict no adults alone policy in the museum. To ensure the safety of our young visitors, adults without children must be accompanied by a Hands On staff member. As a nonprofit organization, we are not always staffed adequately to provide unscheduled tours. Please review our Tours page to see our scheduled tour times.

Can I drop my children off at the museum? 
At the museum all children must be accompanied by an adult (16 or older) unless registered for a special museum program such as preschool, camps, etc.

What forms of payment do you accept?
The museum accepts cash, check, Visa, Master Card, and Discover. There is an ATM in the museum lobby.

How do you get to the museum and where can we park?
Please click here for directions & parking options.

What about food at the museum?

The Play Day Cafe is open daily and features Batdorf & Bronson coffee, drinks, and snacks. The Cafe Team also creates a wonderful selection of sandwiches, soups, salads, grilled cheese and other family friendly choices along with providingseating for cafe patrons. If you bring your own food from home, we do have a few tables reserved for this in the cafe. You are also welcome to have a picnic in East Bay Public Plaza, but please keep food about 5 feet away from the water feature. (Please no outside food from other restaurants or vendors in the cafe.) We also ask that food and drink are not consumed in the galleries, including the Outdoor Discovery Center. 

Why is it important to stay with my child while visiting the museum?
Please remember children under age 16 must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. We believe family members are important as a child's first teachers and as a partner in learning. Our exhibits are designed specifically to encourage interaction and inquiry, as well as participation from the entire family. We also take visitor safety seriously and supervising adults help ensure their children are enjoying the exhibits and facility safely.

Are strollers allowed in the museum?
We ask that you not take your stroller into the galleries, except under special circumstances, to ensure there is adequate circulation for all guests. We do provide stroller parking in our Lobby in the Stroller and Coat Room.

Do you have lockers?
Lockers are available for rent for $2 (includes sales tax) during your visit to the museum. Lockers are located in the Lobby in the Stroller and Coat Room.

How can I volunteer?
The museum is always in need of responsible teen and adult volunteers to help with camps, programs and museum projects. The museum uses an average of 1,000 volunteers each year. For more information please visit our Volunteer page or stop by the museum and pick up a volunteer application.

What is your financial structure? 
The museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Do you donate to other non-profit auctions?
The museum will support other 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization’s auctions and events. The museum requests that a formal request be faxed, mailed, or emailed to the museum on the organization’s letterhead. Please include the organization’s Tax ID number and either the date of the event or the deadline for the donation. Each request will be reviewed, and if approved, the donation will be sent to the organization. Please allow ample time for your request to be reviewed.

When does the East Bay Plaza stream open?
The interactive 250-foot East Bay Plaza stream is open daily, 9 a.m. to dusk, the third weekend in April through the second weekend in October. The stream is open for wading and is an excellent lunch spot for families. Public restrooms are on site. Families can purchase healthy lunch items and treats like ice cream at the museum's Play Day Cafe. Please note: Shirts and shoes are required inside the children's museum.

At times, the museum is too loud for my child. What can we do?
The museum is an open-concept design that can be loud on busy days. At the Front Desk, we can loan your child a pair of brightly colored, noise-muffling headphones to wear during his or her visit.

Why do I have to remove the wheels in my skate shoes?
Shoes with wheels damage the floors in our museum. We will ask that you pop the wheels out of your shoes to prevent repairs.

Photo/Video Policy within the Museum
Each person entering the Hands On Children’s Museum grants the museum permission to photograph, videotape, record or otherwise reproduce the image and/or voice of that person and all accompanying minors, without compensation, for the museum’s business purposes, including copying, distribution, and other uses.

IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED, please inform the front desk upon check-in and request a NO PHOTO sticker to place on your child. Our staff, volunteers, and visiting media are instructed to look for the stickers and will do their best to avoid including your child in materials. Large crowd shots where individuals are not identifiable may still occur. 

What about other special restrictions?
For the comfort of our visitors and their families, we are a Weapons-free Zone. We ask that visitors not bring any sharp objects or concealed weapons into the museum. 
We are also a Tobacco and Vape-free Zone.  We ask that visitors do not smoke on Museum property, including the Outdoor Discovery Center and entrance. 

When is the best time to visit the museum?
During our busy field trip season (March through mid-June) we typically see a high volume of school field trips Monday-Friday between the hours 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Like us on Facebook to see best times to visit! Families are welcome to call in advance of a visit to check on scheduled field trips if they prefer to identify a less busy time, (360) 956-0818. 

When is the museum closed?
The museum is closed on the following holidays: Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. It closes for one week in September for regular maintenance and cleaning.

Have questions about the temporary Warming Center in downtown Olympia?  
See this FAQ page on the Interfaith Works Warming Center

Ready to come to the museum?
Plan your visit here.