Hands On Children’s Museum offers fun for kids and adults -- plus free dental exams

Adults get to act like kids during Adult Swim at the Hands On Children’s Museum.
Adults get to act like kids during Adult Swim at the Hands On Children’s Museum. Courtesy of Hands On Children's Museum

This weekend, the Hands On Children’s Museum has adventures for playful people of all ages.

Both kids and adults will get the chance to don Velcro suits and jump onto a wall covered with the hook-and-loop fastener. Both kids and adults can meet and greet local versions of famed comic-book superhero types.

But while the grownups attending Friday’s Adult Swim can sip cocktails and eat cupcakes, the younger crowd will be learning the importance of good dental hygiene in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

That might not sound quite fair, but children love playing dentist, said the museum’s Amanda Wilkening.

“They love the dental chairs,” she told The Olympian. “It’s a weird shape chair, and you can move different parts of it.”

The museum’s dentist-office exhibit, with moving chairs, giant toothbrushes and stuffed monster “patients,” will be accessible through April 20, when the nursery exhibit will return.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and again March 2, the museum is working with local dentists to offer free dental screenings for children, and families who bring children to be screened get free admission to the museum.

This weekend, kids also can paint with toothbrushes, check out a replica of a mammoth tooth, and meet the costumed characters “Batman in Seattle” and “Amazon of Olympia” (patterned after Wonder Woman).

“They encourage the kids to get their teeth examined and talk about how dental health is important to being a hero,” Wilkening said. “In the past, it’s helped us get the kids excited to see a dentist.”

The superhero look-alikes also will be on hand for photo opportunities at Friday’s Adult Swim, themed “Comics, Costumes & Cocktails.”

Those attending the swim are invited to dress up, too, and the event will include a costume contest

Adult adventurers also can play comic-themed games, make 3D glasses, try animation, visit photo booths, and design their own masks and capes.

And, of course, they can attempt to stick to the wall in the Velcro jump, an activity that might have been pioneered by late-night talk-show host David Letterman, who jumped onto a Velcro wall on TV in 1984.

Velcro jumping later took off in bars. A 1992 New York Times article described competitions in which contestants commonly reached heights of 8 feet and more.

“It’s sort of like parachuting in reverse,” jumper Bob Ouelette told Times reporter N.R. Kleinfield.

The museum’s Velcro jump — a big hit at a past Adult Swim — is much gentler than the ones that took place against bar walls: The hook-and-loop fastener wall is part of an inflatable bouncing toy.

The wall will be installed in time for Friday’s party and will remain up through Saturday so kids can try it, too.

“It was really fun last time, so we decided to bring it back,” Wilkening said.

Children’s Dental Health Month

  • What: The Hands On Children’s Museum offers free dental screenings for children, a kid-sized office where kids can play dentist and a toothsome array of other themed activities.
  • Where: Hands On Children’s Museum, 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia
  • Tickets: Free for families who bring their children for a free dental screening. Without a screening, activities are free with museum admission ($14.95, $12.95 for seniors and military with ID, free for babies 0-17 months)
  • More information: 360-956-0818, hocm.org/dental-health-month


  • Free dental screenings for children: 1-3 p.m. Saturday and again March 2
  • Meet costumed superheroes: 1-3 p.m. Saturday
  • Learn about mammoth teeth: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday
  • Paint with toothbrushes: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Sunday

Adult Swim: Comics, Costumes & Cocktails

  • What: The latest of the Hands On Children’s Museum’s adults-only evenings invites adults to play dress-up, pose for photos, try animation and cartooning and more.
  • When: 7-10 p.m. Friday
  • Where: Hands On Children’s Museum, 414 Jefferson St. NE, Olympia
  • Tickets: $22 in advance, $28 at the door. Tickets include a cocktail and a cupcake, and additional food and beverages are available for purchase.
  • More information: 360-956-0818, hocm.org/adultswim
  • Also: The event is open only to people 21 and older.