May 01 2012
I had heard good things about the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, so when I got to choose our family outing last weekend, this is where I decided we were going to go, despite the grumblings of children who wanted to go to Mall of America or the children’s museum instead. I wanted to go somewhere new and interesting without fighting crowds on a cool and rainy Saturday.
The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting is located in a business/light-industrial area of St. Louis Park, MN, just off Hwys 100 and 7. After paying our admission and hanging up our coats, one son noticed the audio tour option, but we instead went with the guided tour of the museum that was offered to us. Our guide cranked up a Victrola and a replica of Edison’s first phonograph, and we threw some nickels into an old-time juke box. We learned about electricity with Leyden jar experiments like they have at the Bakken Museum, and got a demonstration of a ship’s radio system from days gone by.
Then it was on to the next room, where three kids at a time competed in a quiz show, complete with Jeopardy-style buzz-in buttons and broadcast on an old-time TV right in front of us.
Our guide read the questions and kept score.
We tried our hands at playing the Theremin, and then were shown a video that proves that some people actually were able to get songs to come from this electronic musical instrument. We were taken to a back room where it was explained how film works, and after being given actual film clips to look at (something new for our kids’ generation), we watched the Roadrunner escape the coyote until the film broke.
Each child tried their hand at a telegraph, we heard music from old-time movie-theater speakers, and watched old-time TV shows on an old-time television.
The highlight of the visit, however, was doing our own radio show in the radio studio. With one child at the controls, two announcers, and two reporters, we followed the script and broadcast our very own radio show, which was e-mailed to us after we left the museum. Seeing how radio works, even though the studio setup was from the late-1960s, was an eye-opener for our WCCO-listening family.
We spent about an hour and a half at the museum; enthusiasts who want to examine all of the old radios and television sets on site could spend much longer.
At the end, even those children who weren’t sure about going to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting said it was a lot more fun than they’d expected it to be. I’ve already recommended it to friends and to our school as a good field trip option for upper-elementary students. The Pavek Museum of Broadcasting does an excellent job of portraying the history of broadcasting in an informative and interactive way.