Going Greek in new museum

Greektown may not be on your list of family-friendly hotspots, but the new National Hellenic Museum that opened last week on Halsted Street could change that. While only one exhibit is in place so far, it’s one most elementary school-aged kids will enjoy – from the giant Trojan horse kids can climb in to the arm-wrestling contest with Greek athletes.

If you go

333 S. Halsted St., Chicago
(312) 655-1234

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday; 5-8 p.m. Tuesday.

Admission: , seniors and students, kids 3-12, free 2
and under.

I took my three kids to check out the museum and the “Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece”exhibit. I knew it was a hit when they started with the interactive survey to help them figure out which Greek god they’re most like. They loved choosing the ridiculous answers to the questions about their looks and behavior and being matched up with a god. Arm-wrestling (actually metal arms that required some muscle power) had them laughing, as did a visit to Cyclops’ Cave with the booming voice that yelled when they entered. Every station at this exhibit featured something to touch, listen to and learn.

Probably our only disappointment was that the museum isn’t finished yet. We spent about 45 minutes in the exhibit and then did a quick tour of the second floor to look at some photos of what the permanent exhibits will look like when construction is completed this summer.

And, while younger children will enjoy all the things to touch at the museum (nothing was hands-off), learning about Greek gods and Homer’s Odyssey probably holds more appeal to children in elementary school and high school.

To wrap up our Greek experience, we headed to one of the many restaurants lining Halsted Street. We chose Greek Islands and the kids had their first experience eating flaming cheese – although when the waiter first lit it on fire at the table they were a little skeptical about actually eating it (they ended up loving it). For a less expensive meal or just a quick bite, there were plenty of Greek cafes and bakeries near the museum.

Parking is crowded here, so your best bet is to pay the $6-$9 at the nearby parking lots.

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