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The other day, I saw a tiny pirate aboard a very large pirate ship in the middle of Omaha.

Decked out in a pirate's hat and a bright red vest, she looked the part. Using her vivid imagination, the little girl was deep into an adventure at sea as her mom stood beside the ship snapping photos.

This kind of scene plays out every day at Omaha Children's Museum, and whenever I venture up to our summer exhibit, "Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove," I see some sort of variation on it. Sometimes it's a bashful mermaid or perhaps a fierce shark.

The costumes in the exhibit are always put to use by our young guests (and sometimes their parents!).

A lot of our summer exhibit is centered around engaging the imagination of children. What will they create at the Shell Shack? Will they imagine they're scuba diving in the ball pit ocean or relaxing on waves? We leave a lot of the exhibit open-ended for children to explore however they choose.

There are programs, though, designed with specific goals. Some of our mermaid's story times have themes about water conservation, for example, and Captain Kid will often be found showing children different kinds of fossils from ancient marine creatures.

Our touch tank puts children up close to real sea life with trained staff on hand to answer questions and explain simple marine biology to our youngest visitors.

Whatever your children choose to explore when you visit "Pirates and Mermaids: Voyage to Creature Cove," we hope it sparks a love of learning in them!

Hillary Saalfeld

Omaha Children's Museum

Hillary is the Manager of Learning Experiences at Omaha Children's Museum. Part of the job she enjoys most is having the chance to relive her favorite parts of childhood by creating exciting programming for all the museum guests! Hillary has a Bachelor's in History with minors in Theatre and English (which explains her flair for the dramatic) from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master's in Museology with an emphasis in Museum Programming and Exhibit Design from the University of Washington i ...

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