…but when I do, I go to Thinkery!
At the heart of Mueller is Austin’s interactive children’s science non-profit museum, called Thinkery. Thinkery is a STEAM-focused museum and strives to create innovative ways for children and parents to learn together.
If you aren’t familiar with STEAM, it is an acronym for learning based on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. By STEAM standards, Thinkery ensures that every exhibit, every summer camp, every activity- even the gift shop- fulfills at least one or more of the STEAM categories to promote and drive innovation in fun and engaging ways among youth. My roommate has been working here on the administrative side for a year now and absolutely loves it. Going to work for her doesn’t feel like “work” because it has such a fun and lively atmosphere, and is filled with children every single day. If I’m being honest, I’m not too big on museums. BUT, Thinkery is actually quite a cool place and definitely worth a visit, especially if you have children!
One of the neat things about Thinkery is that it is so involved in the community and provides opportunities for every single type of child and family. It has community nights every Wednesday, where admission is by donation of any amount so that families who can’t afford to pay the standard fee for their family can enter the museum. There is also a program called Open Door, which essentially is an incredibly large fund created by donors to support free entries for those who need it. Anyone can enter the museum for free by saying they are with the Open Door Program, and their entry fee is pulled from the Open Door fund. There is no paperwork or registration for this, so it is largely based on the honor system, which is honorable of Thinkery to do.
Thinkery also has Sensory-Friendly hours, where the museum is only open to those children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or other special needs. During these hours, the museum exhibits are modified to accommodate these children, by reducing the stimuli as well as the crowds. Finally, Thinkery has Parents’ Night Out on designated Fridays, which is when parents can drop their kids off at the museum for a fun night of games, activities, and pizza while they go out to any of the locations in the Mueller area that have partnered with Thinkery for this night, such as Alamo Drafthouse, L’Oco d’Oro, and BD Riley’s. In the event something were to happen, Thinkery will know which parents are at which Mueller locations to get a hold of them quickly and easily.
If nights like these don’t make you love a museum and have so much respect and admiration for what it does then I don’t know what will.
My favorite part about Thinkery is that it’s not just for kids. Sure, adults don’t typically come here on their own in their spare time, but there are special nights that take place at the museum specifically for adults: Thinkery21.
Thinkery21, as you might guess, is for museum guests that are 21+ and takes place about once a month. Each night is themed and so the performances and exhibits that are brought in are based on that theme. The last one I attended was called “Lights, Camera, Cocktails!” and was in partnership with the
Alamo Drafthouse that had just opened up next door and was sort of like Alamo’s debut. The night featured hands-on experiences and demonstrations for learning about movies, such as historical movie facts and a hands-on green screen experience, learning how the Texas Archive of
the Moving Image preserves Texas films and videotapes, and then there were random additions like a bunny exhibit/petting zoo. Other nights have included drag queen performances, Tito’s Vodka tastings, ice cream making, and popcorn tasting, among others.
All of this, of course, was done with a cocktail in hand from the pop-up bar, like every Thinkery21 event.
So, if you have kids in your life, take them here for a wonderful learning experience. Or, drop them off on parent night and have a wonderful night of your own. It’s a win-win situation, if you ask me.