expERIEnce Children’s Museum
Founded in Pittsburgh, PA, ASCEND operates facilities that offer climbing, fitness, yoga, youth programs, and community events. ASCEND Erie opened in November 2023, bringing Erie residents a much-needed downtown indoor recreational facility. This 25,000 SF facility features 50’ lead climbing, top-roping, and auto-belay walls, ample bouldering terrain, a tranquil yoga room, an array of fitness equipment, and climbing training tools, slacklines, a retail store featuring today's most trusted brands, your favorite concessions, modern restrooms with showers, changing areas, and gender neutral options, comfortable lounge space to relax, work, and socialize, and of course, tons of glass - natural light! This facility was designed to suit all types of climbers: beginners, outdoor crushers, competitors, those who have adaptive needs, groups, youth and families.
expERIEnce Children's Museum
Whether it’s a sunny day, a snowy one, or anything in between, every moment spent inside the newly renovated expERIEnce Children’s Museum is an opportunity to watch your little one’s imagination take flight in brand-new ways. The museum is wrapping up an $18 million renovation and expansion project that has been in the works since 2015. Phase 1, a 19,000-square-foot building addition, opened in June 2023 complete with new exhibits, an expanded gift shop, an interactive musical lobby wall, and a fun green screen experience. Phase 2, set to be completed in spring 2024, marks the culmination of the project. During this phase, the original museum will be transformed with a redesigned floor plan, new classrooms, additional exhibits, and a sensory-friendly room. A certified nature explore classroom will also make its debut in the green space between the museum and the Erie Art Museum.
A veritable treasure trove of new exhibits awaits inside the new addition. The museum’s newly located entrance at East 5th and French Streets opens to the main level, where “Lake Life”, an homage to the joy of being on Lake Erie is celebrated. Its ship climber exhibit, inspired by Erie’s flagship, U.S. Brig Niagara, invites children to climb aboard and take on the role of captain. Meanwhile, the bubble exhibit offers the chance to envelop your body in a colossal bubble of your own creation. Adding a touch of technology, an interactive lake projection responds to footsteps, creating a captivating visual experience. Finally, guests can dive into the impressive water table, the second largest in the United States, featuring Erie icons such as the Bicentennial Tower and Land Lighthouse. It’s splish-splash fun sailing ships around a whirlpool, seeing the world from inside a water dome, controlling the weather, and even doing some fishing.
The second floor is “My Erie”, a kid-sized town packed with a variety of hands-on experiences. Kids can take orders and prepare food at the Erie Eats restaurant, milk a cow and pick produce on the farm, or groom a pet and check the oil on a car. My Erie’s nursery exhibit even has a nod to Erie’s New American families, featuring baby songs from their countries with English translations.
Photo courtesy of Carly Shoulders