4 FREE family fun experiences not to miss this summer! - MetroFamily Magazine
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4 FREE family fun experiences not to miss this summer!

by Erin Page

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

While it feels that everything in our world is getting more and more expensive, I have some good news for you: family fun does not have to be one of them! And that also means you don’t have to skip out on creating family memories this summer. Check out our four favorite FREE family fun experiences not to miss before the kids head back to school:

  1. Summer Thursdays at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame are one of my kids’ favorite summer staples. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday, enjoy free admission, story time, crafts and more. (Plus, they offer similar free programming the second Saturday of each month.) Each day is themed, and on our visit we were celebrating women in STEM, complete with making bubble wands out of pipe cleaners and straws!Full disclosure: I’m a little partial to this museum as I was on staff when it opened in 2007. The team consistently impresses with creative, top-notch family programming, and the high-tech museum is always a win with kids.My trio loves the Picture Yourself exhibit, where kids can currently become a surgeon, pilot or astronaut. The Makerspace exhibit offers a fun sensory wall as well as additional STEM experiences and games. In the Oklahoma Through Its People gallery, families can learn about the five characteristics of Oklahoma’s people and watch videos of some influential leaders. And the Oklahoma Hall of Fame gallery gives visitors to chance to search the database of 722 inductees by name, hometown or shared interests. (Plus, kids can pose for a #futurefamer pic!) I love that when visiting this space my kids feel both inspired and empowered as to how they can make a positive impact on our state in their lifetimes.
  2. If your kids are animal lovers like mine, John Newsom’s Nature’s Course will be on display at Oklahoma Contemporary through Aug. 15 — and admission is always free. Newsom’s work layers and combines elements of Abstract Expressionism, minimalist geometric shapes and hyper-realistic representations of animals.This museum is another favorite of my family. Its smaller size and kid-friendly experiences make for an easy way to introduce younger kids to the joy of art museums while also allowing their own creativity to shine. One of our favorite areas is the Learning Gallery, which is the perfect space for kids to experience the artwork on display in ways that appeal to them. In conjunction with Nature’s Course, visitors can explore an interactive version of a Newsom painting, listen to Spotify playlists inspired by his work, explore his early works — from age 3 to college — and even create (and display!) works of their own.Second Saturdays start back in August, offering free admission, plus hands-on art and family fun. Also opening in August, an incredible outdoor sculpture will make its way to Contemporary. Breve historia del tiempo by Gonzálo Lebrija is a 2,500-pound 1968 Chevrolet Malibu that appears to be suspended vertically over a pool of water.
  3. The Fred Jones Junior Museum of Art was on our list of new-to-us experiences this summer for several reasons. I’ve never met an art museum I didn’t like, but I had yet to visit the Fred (I know, I know … and I’m a lifelong OKCitian … this is why I had to rectify this!) And the museum recently opened an incredible immersive experience in conjunction with Factory Obscura called Synesthesia. Inspired by the color and textural elements of the permanent collection of the museum, the exhibit showcases color in unique ways, inviting visitors to open their senses to gently touch, listen, crawl and explore. If you have visited Factory Obscura, this experience is just as magical, though on a smaller scale. For my kids, being able to touch and explore art through textures, lights, unexpected use of objects and laughter makes the experience stick in their memories and also opens their eyes to how all-encompassing art and creativity can be. Read our full review on Synesthesia here. On this visit, we also enjoyed the collection of French Impressionism, especially because several artist names are already familiar to my kids from their school art classes, as well as several special exhibitions on display.Admission to the Fred always free, which means especially if you have younger kids, it’s easier to justify shorter experiences or enjoy the various galleries in the museum over multiple visits. Plus, the Fred offers fun ways to engage kids, like a game of art Bingo or a seasonal scavenger hunt to search for art related to different times of the year.
  4. Both the Metro Library and Pioneer Library systems offer a plethora of free family fun all summer long. The Pioneer Library System’s Maker Mobile provides hands-on STEAM instruction, plus classes and story times are held often at no cost. My kids have been loving the Neighborhood Arts program this summer, held at various times throughout the Metro Library locations during June and July. The program explores a variety of musical styles and performance arts, and my kids especially enjoying practicing hip hop with Groovemeant Community. Don’t miss the Reading to Dogs program! Check individual libraries for program times and registration. Plus, get registered for summer reading programs. Completed minutes earn kids (and adults!) free books or swag and the chance to win big prizes. I love that after registering my kids, their reading levels and their interests, I get emails each week with recommended books for them.
  5. BONUS: While adults do have to pay for admission, kids 17 and under always get in free to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. And as a mama of three, that definitely feels like a huge cost savings!OKCMOA just opened a redesign of the original Dale Chihuly exhibit, the iconic and incredible blown glass for which the museum is most well known. Chihuly Then and Now: The Collection at Twenty features five decades of Chihuly glass and works on paper and tells a comprehensive story of Chihuly’s groundbreaking career. In addition to some of our favorites from the original exhibit, we also got to view works of art never before seen in OKC. If you’ve always loved Oklahoma Persian Ceiling like my crew, it’s still included with a new design (and don’t worry — you can still hunt for the five glass putti (“little boys” or “cherubs” in Italian). The Chihuly exhibit is itself reason enough to visit OKCMOA, but we also loved The Perfect Shot, iconic sports photography by Walter Iooss, Jr. The OKCMOA offers plenty of ways for kids to engage throughout the museum (like discovery packs with sketching materials, drawing prompts and more), and The Perfect Shot is no exception. A fun scavenger hunt had my kids exploring every inch of the gallery. The exhibit is on display through early September. Check out our full review on why your family should visit OKCMOA this summer here.

For even more frugal family fun, check out our list of metro museums offering free admission, 50 Things to Do This Summer for $5 or less and our round-up of the best free events, ideas for a no-spend weekend and more! 

Erin Page is managing editor of MetroFamily Magazine, an award-winning writer, a lifelong resident of OKC, wife to Jordan and mom to Addie, Hutch and Weston. She enjoys exploring our city, cooking and hiding from her kids to eat chocolate.

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