Great books are timeless, and now the Children’s Museum of the Upstate lets fans of “The Boxcar Children” explore their favorite tales through hands-on activities that will have children, parents and grandparents sharing memories.

The first book in the extensive series was written by Gertrude Chandler Warner and originally published in 1924. The exhibit, which is open through May 6, 2018 is a creation of TCMU.

“We have been growing our capacity to build our own exhibits in house,” said Nancy Halverson, the museum’s president and CEO.

As the museum’s staff brainstormed the possibility of future exhibits, one idea quickly became a favorite.

“There were five of us at the table and three of us said ‘The Boxcar Children,’” Halverson said. “This is the 75th anniversary of the book. It made sense that we would be a part of that energy.”

The exhibit makes literature tangible. Though it offers something for all ages, it should have special appeal for preschool children through fourth grade. Halverson said the museum is collaborating with teachers and the Greenville County Library to help readers find a connection to the book series. That started with the museum hosting a professional development class for teachers and continues as school groups visit the exhibit.

“We always want our exhibits to be relevant to the community,” Halverson says. “There are a lot of traveling exhibits out there. Some are very cost prohibitive and some just aren’t the right fit for our community.”

This one is expected to have great appeal. Text panels and audio enhancements are part of the experience, along with as many opportunities for imaginative play. The highly interactive, three-dimensional exhibit features 1500 square feet of space highlighting many of the book’s familiar scenes in areas where children can learn and play.

“If you’re 3, you’re going to have fun,” Halverson said. “If you’re 10 and you’ve read the books, you will appreciate the whole narrative we’ve created. At different developmental stages, kids need different things.”

For Halverson, it has been a delight to see one of her own childhood favorites come to life and witness young readers seeing it in a whole new way.

The Boxcar Children is open at The Children’s Museum of the Upstate through May 6, 2018. Experience a nearly life-sized replica of a boxcar (including props from the book), the bakery, Dr. Moore’s house and other scenes from the book, all with interactive play opportunities. Learn more at

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