August 12, 2020

Anjana Menon on her twin children and Stellar Children’s Museum

Weekends are fun right? Or urban parents at least intend to make it fun with one possible outing to a venue that have the kids engaged. How about if this venue was your own and unlike an indoor play area is a science space to quest young curious minds?

Did you say ‘Brilliant’? Well, that’s what this mum did for her twin boys and opened doors for many other parents to get their kids to her science museum a few years ago.

Anjana Menon in between her hectic schedules and relocating the museum to a new venue, shares with Mums and stories her journey of starting Stellar Children’s Museum in Delhi-Gurgaon by her and her husband. They took up this initiative once they were back from a U.S professional stint and since then, apart from their exhibits showcased at the Giria’s Children’s Explorium in Bangalore, they have been creatively involved in designing for upcoming museums in the country.

Anjana says, “We lived in Washington DC, Chicago and New York, all cities with children’s museums. The children’s museum at Navy Pier in Chicago is one of the biggest and most well recognized museums in the world. I have always been fascinated by environments that stimulate curiosity and imagination. A children’s museum does just that. It leads kids into a world where they feel safe and in control. They make their own choices at play that results in creation or discovery. The concepts from learning in this manner is bound to stay with the child for longer than anything they may just read out of their textbooks at school

To lead to a little more information, there are over 300 children’s museums in the world. The first children’s museum was the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, founded over 100 years ago! These institutions provide exhibits and programs to stimulate informal learning experiences for children.

My kids were 3 years old when I began conceptualizing the museum. They were excited about their mum starting a space for them to “play” in. and I, on the other hand couldn’t wait to get started with the project.

Designed by children’s museum experts from Chicago and modeled on some of the best children’s museums around the world, Stellar Children’s Museum is packed with interactive play areas. There are various galleries that engage children in learning concepts through arts & crafts, science and experiments, design and construction, geography and culture, pretend play and social skills and adventure & investigation.

Most parents and educators show their appreciation for the museum and for the learning that they also stumble upon while engaging in activities with their kids and students. They compare it to various child-centric places abroad that they seek and take their children to.

This is a start and as we gather more positive responses from parents, there will be more spaces such as the museum that will be set up across the country. This is a new concept, but one that has been noticed quickly and is definitely on its way to becoming something much bigger.”

On being a mum to twin boys, she says, “When I mention to people that I have twin boys, they always seem to believe that I am probably tortured and harassed by them. Aside from a few tantrums that all kids throw, I find it a rather easy in bringing up and dealing with the boys. I feel that their being the same age and the same gender actually works well. Their interests are similar and their friends the same. This helps with managing activities for them.

The goal of course is to raise them as separate individuals and encourage them to develop their individual skills.

My boys are fraternal twins. They are 8 years of age and both Ishaan and Rehaan look different and their personalities are completely unique. I started working on the museum when they were 3 years old and so I don’t think they really remember the time when I was with them 24X7. They are excited by the museum and the concept since it appeals so much to them and their friends.

Since my husband and I both run our own companies, we make a conscious effort to make sure that one of us is present with the kids in the evenings or on holidays. Fortunately, I can also bring the kids and their friends to the museum on weekends and hang out with them. They love giving me new insights and ideas on what we could do to make the museum more interesting and so I manage to get them to be a part of my professional life too.

Looking at the world and experiences through their perspective which is always so unique and unblemished. I am a tomboy in many ways and I love being a part of all their adventures. I love rediscovering with them books and memories from the past. I love to travel with them and expose them to various cultures and experiences. It’s a lot like living your childhood all over again with new friends and experiences.

Parents today are always looking for new and educational recreation for the kids. This means looking for “meaningful entertainment” for their kids. They want to break their kids out of the mould of wanting to just go to a mall or to the movies. The museum is a space where we see parents eager to participate in activities with their kids through collaborative effort and problem solving. “

On being encouraged to be an entrepreneur she mentions, “Everything I now know about being an entrepreneur and running my own show, I have learnt from a lot of sources including my husband, Akshay Sethi.

He has been a constant source of encouragement and advice. He has helped immensely with the “business” aspect of the venture, while I concentrate more on the creative and operational side of the Museum. For someone like me with no formal training in running a business, it has helped to know my strengths and push ahead with that, while never hesitating to take help from Akshay on matters that aren’t my forte.

I must also extend this support to the rest of my family, especially my mom-in-law who has always been there to help with the kids and other chores. “

Mums and stories wishes Anjana Menon to have a great time in setting up many more inspirational science museums for kids in the country.

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