Tin Marin Children’s Museum in San Salvador

On our last morning in El Salvador, we went to Tin Marin Children’s Museum, which is reputed to be one of the best children’s museums… possibly in the world. It is incredibly extensive, with both large indoor and outdoor areas. The indoor area has numerous sections and rooms devoted to learning and development, from construction (building), supermarket shopping (of course, my baby’s favorite), restaurant cooking and dining (of course, play pupusas were represented even with their fresh tomato salsa and curtido accompaniments, so we’re very in touch with local flavors, plus a pizzeria, an ice cream/sorbet cart, a dairy shop, and a dried grains/beans vendor), an education area about your mouth and dental hygiene, volcano and earthquake education; a real car for kids to paint (so messy but fun!), to even a full fledged mini theater with dress up for slightly older kids and a puppet show. No detail was overlooked in the creation of each of these sections; I was truly blown away by the thoughtfulness of the tiniest features throughout. The outdoor area was also incredible, with a real fire truck from the 1930s area (shipped from Canada, one of the attendants told me), part of a real ship, as well as a real part of an actual airplane. You could even smell the airplane interior — there was no mistaking that old airplane scent. The museum outdoor area also had a butterfly conservatory where many tropical and colorful butterflies were fluttering about.

I thought about this experience and how comprehensive it was in comparison with the experiences I know to be true of the Manhattan Children’s Museum on the Upper West Side. The entry fee has gone up since last year and is $16.75 for children (over the age of 1!!) and adults. It doesn’t even have half of what Tin Marin offers. The supermarket area itself is depressing next to the massive, comprehensive one we experienced here. Tin Marin’s little supermarket even had “salmon” fillets made of rubber, as well as an entire dairy section and medication/formula area. Here, the admission fee was a mere $3.50 for endless exhibits and hands-on fun.

In general, I left El Salvador marveling over how child-friendly and inviting it was. Entre Nubes, the coffee farm/cafe we went to yesterday, also had a huge children’s play area with a massive, colorful play house with a play structure attached to it with slides and all. The library from our first full day was made for young children. In New York, or really, the U.S., children aren’t really included or considered when people build general public spaces. That’s why museums like the Children’s Museum on the Upper West Side cost so much. Why should a child, age 1, be charged $16.75 to enter a children’s play museum…?! That just sounds like price gouging at its worst!

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