Science & Imagination Gallery

On June 20, 2015, the Children's Museum of Sonoma County opened the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation Science & Imagination Gallery.  Interactive exhibits are designed for hands-on play, perfect for families with children ages 10 years and younger.


Sponsored by Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation

Jesse's Train Station

Sponsored by Herb Williams in memory of his son Jesse Williams

The miniature train station modeled after the one in Petaluma will catch the eye immediately upon entering the Science and Imagination Gallery. Whether it’s pretending to sell tickets to board a train, taking a seat in the train car, operating the control panel to start and stop trains, this exhibit will delight all ages. From inside the life-size train car within the train station, families can take a seat and look out the window.  Visitors watch a video of the actual train as it meanders in and around the Museum’s gallery and lobby spaces – traveling at one point through a miniature model of a Sonoma County town complete with miniature townspeople. The sounds of train tracks going by can be heard as well adding to the magical feeling of being on a moving train.

Science and Imagination Railroad

$30,000 (available for sponsorship - email for more information)

The large scale model railroad will catch the eye of everyone in the Science & Imagination Gallery!  The Railroad consists of 250 feet of two continuous loops of track suspended from the ceiling. Train operations can be easily viewed from the mezzanine level where kids of all ages can interact with train operations.

Click here for more information on the Science & Imagination Railroad

Fairy World

Sponsored by The Heck Foundation

Located in the Science & Imagination Gallery, children climb into a secret world hidden under a spiral staircase and search for fairies and gnomes in magical miniature forest.  It may look mysterious from the outside but once tucked inside, Fairy World lights up to the delight of our littlest visitors.


Sponsored by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

An amazing 15-foot high floor to ceiling air maze where children can direct the maze airflow and watch feathers, scarves and balls whiz by, through, up, down, and out!  What goes faster?  Are certain objects too heavy to “fly”?  What happens when one airflow tube is blocked off?  Children will play at this exhibit for hours while simultaneously learning about air pressure.

Pachinko Gizmo

$25,000 (available for sponsorship)

Located in the Science & Imagination Gallery, children watch as balls are lifted by a gizmo up into a giant pachinko like machine.  Watch as teh balls come back down bouncing off various pinwheels and contraptions before reaching the bottom.

Wind Vortex

Sponsored by Medtronic Foundation

The Wind Votex is a wonderful hands-on inquiry based exhibit that lets children use their imaginations to build flying machines.  Are certain objects too heavy to fly?  What materials fly faster? Design and make your own flying object out of recycled materials and test it out in the wind tube!  Children learn about aerodynamics and physics at this exhibit, of which a smaller traveling version is already a popular Museum-on-the-Go exhibit.

Bernoulli Blower

Sponsored by Santa Rosa Soroptimists

A ball floats, bobbing up and down, above a tube in this exhibit. When you get up close, you find out that the ball is floating on a stream of air (generated by a large fan). If you slowly try to pull the ball out of the airstream, you can feel it being pulled back in. Tilt the tube in different directions, and the ball will be suspended in space off to the side of the blower as if held there by magic. Named after the Swiss scientist, Daniel Bernoulli, this fun and creative exhibit teaches children about the Bernoulli principle and how airplanes stay aloft.

Puppet Theater

Sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Located in the corner of Main Street Sonoma County below the charming Victorian House, children will enjoy playing with the puppet theater.  With playful and whimsical puppets of all kinds to play with, children will delight in thinking up plays and acting them out for family members and visitors.

"Flavortown" Kids Café and Kitchen

Sponsored by Cooking with Kids Foundation

In the Kitchen, children will be delighted by what appears to be a kid-sized diner – complete with tables to sit at and a “real” kitchen to prepare food in.  A stainless steel countertop complete with “hot line” similar to those seen on cooking shows and in restaurants is the perfect place to serve the meals after they have been prepared at the “prep table.”  Parents will enjoy pretending to eat the delicious food served by their children at one of the tables or while sitting on a stool next to the countertop.

Crocodile Dental Clinic

Sponsored by Bernstein Orthodontics

The goal of Crocodile Dental Clinic exhibit is to teach children about dental hygiene, their bodies, and the tie between eating healthy and strong teeth.  This exhibit will allow children to become doctors and examine the patient, Kyle the Crocodile!  Pint-sized visitors can wear lab coats, explore a faux clinic and participate in interactive activities, such as investigating the differences in different animals’ teeth, jotting their own medical notes, practice brushing with oversized toothbrushes see X-rays and try to determine if Kyle is eating healthy and practicing good dental hygiene. Children will leave with new understanding and appreciation of their own pearly whites and their bodies as a whole.

Head-2-Toe Health & Science Lab

Sponsored by Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance and Foundation

All children are being scientists when they play, but at the Science & Health Lab they get to dress the part, too! Kids can put on lab coats and stethoscopes while they "experiment" with different items in the lab.  Children can view different specimens under a Wentzscope, a large viewer microscope. They can look at x-rays on our x-ray wall.  Tend to babies in the incubator, or give the dolls a bath. Children can also measure their heartbeats with a bass drum! 


Sponsored by Thea & Mark Dolan and Suzy & Mike Marzalek

How do bees behave?  Can you find the queen bee?  Where do bees go?  How do they help out in nature? How do bees create honey?  What different types of bees are there?  Observe and learn all about bees at the Observation Bee Hive! Understand the role of bees and how they pollinate plants by observing bees in a real hive. Children will gain an understanding of the contribution of pollination to food supply, and respect for the fragile relationship of natural partnerships in nature.  Children will learn how to take care of, encourage and protect pollinators in our environment.

"Nuts & Bolts" Hardware Store

Sponsored by Friedman's Home Improvement

Little construction workers will have the opportunity to don construction hats and construct vests and build using the rotating building materials, like Keva Planks, Miniature Imagination Playground Blocks, wooden blocks, Brackitz, and MORE!  Each building set fosters unlimited creativity and experimentation, while also allowing children to build an early understanding of proportion, balance, physics and engineering. An array of real tools will be on display for anyone wishing to touch them. Children will get lost in the focused task of using their imaginations and real tools to construct things.

Magnetic Ball Wall

Sponsored by the Santa Rosa Soroptimists

At this exhibit, children can use the magnetic gadgets on the steel wall to engineer their own activity.  Create a track for balls to run on, design a creative shape, or simply play with magnets! There are numerous options for experimentation while learning about the principal of “cause and effect” at the same time!

Magnet Table

Sponsored by the Santa Rosa Soroptimists
(Our magnet table can now be found just outside the Art Studio)

Children play with large bolts, screws, and washers to construct shapes and structures.  Collaborate with your neighbors to build a bridge running across the entire table, or individually build a structure.  Find out how high the bolts can be stacked before losing their magnetism.  The properties of magnetism are discovered through this playful and fun exhibit.

Mini Train Town

Sponsored by Codding Foundation

If a child is looking to add more action to the train experience, they can settle down to moving miniature size wooden train cars themselves through a wooden city. Small wooden train tracks with little train cars, just the right size for little hands to manipulate, snake in and out of tunnels and pathways beneath a unique towering Lego structure. Watch as the model trains above pass near the structure at the very top! Children and caregivers alike will wonder at seeing something so large built from Legos. How was it built?  How many Legos did it take? Can you guess?

Victorian House

Sponsored by Jessica, Jemma and Mike Sutton

Children will climb up a spiral staircase to the Victorian House, which anchors the kid-sized Sonoma County Main Street within the Science and Imagination Gallery.  Here they can overlook the rest of the Museum and watch as model trains pass by right before them. Children will delight in looking at antiques, trinkets, and artifacts composed and arranged into intricate and interesting tableau shadow boxes reminiscent of the popular “I Spy” books.  Antique phones, china, lights, oddities, jewelry, hats, toys and dolls provide a visual feast for curious minds to devour.  Can they find the blue marble hidden in one of the boxes?  Or how about the monarch butterfly?  Shadow boxes are designed so that they can be changed out for seasonal holidays or thematic purposes.

Tot Corner

$5,000 available for sponsorship - email for more information

Located on the mezzanine of the Science & Imagination Gallery, families with toddlers can explore this area while keeping an eye on their older children playing in the Gallery.  Read a book or play with wall gears and maze play (coming soon).

Air Cannons

Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation

With the pull of a handle, children can cause an invisible puff of air to strike a target ten feet away causing a wall of little shiny metallic discs to magically shimmer.  Located in the “Science & Imagination” Gallery, the Air Cannons can be aimed at multiple targets, including other visitors.  Children squeal with delight when blasted with a huge ball of air – and adults too!  This exhibit helps children discover how air invisibly travels across long distances and has weight! How much time does it take for the air to reach the target?  What shape does it move in?  A mobile version of the air cannon exhibit has been enormously popular at the Museum-on-the-Go for the past five years.  This more elaborately designed version of the Air Cannon in the permanent Museum will undoubtedly become a visitor favorite.

Light Peg Wall

Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation

Dozens of different colored plastic rods can be inserted into a grid of holes of the same size on a large wall.  Upon doing this, the dully colored plastic rods suddenly become brightly luminescent like an old fashioned light bright!  Children can arrange the rods in different configurations to create their own artistic and colorful pattern of colors.  Sort the rods by color or use the grid to make a prescribed pattern, or simply use your imagination to create something entirely new with light and color.  Children of all ages will find this exhibit exhilarating and fun.  Anyone can do it and everyone will love it!

Light Writing Space Odyssey

Sponsored by Active 20/30 Club of Santa Rosa

Using a lightbulb on phosphorescent paint, children can create masterpieces that glow in the dark. Images slowly fade allowing different images to be captured again and again.

Pipe Organ

Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation

Children can become amazing musicians just by banging the openings of different sized PVC pipes to hear different pitches come out of the organ.  Children discover ideas about air and force as they create music!

Apple Tree House & Pulley System

$70,000 (available for sponsorshipemail for more information)

Climb up into this tree and take a look around at the Museum from the catbird seat.  Look out on the miniature train tracks gliding by just a few feet from the windows and don’t forget to duck when a giant puff of air comes your way from the wind cannons located just across the gallery. Pick some apples from the basket that has been lifted up into the tree house and drop them down one of several secret tunnels found in the trunk of the tree.  At the base of the tree, watch as the apples emerge from various holes in the base of the trunk.  Collect the apples in a basket tied to a pulley mechanism and lift them back up into the tree house again. Collecting apples has never been this much fun!  

ADA Lift

Sponsored by Ann and Gordon Blumenfeld

The ADA Lift in the Gallery allows guests with mobility issues to access the mezzanine level which house interactive exhibits and activities.