Last week the kids and I had the incredible opportunity to check out Zeum located in downtown San Francisco. Joy Daniels, the PR and Marketing manager of Zeum, invited us for a personal tour and, being the last week before school started, we gladly took her up on the offer.

First off, I can't believe I never knew about Zeum. It's a multimedia, art-integrated museum located just behind the Carousel. The Carousel, oddly enough, almost EVERYONE knows about. I did a little back-research on the place before I decided to take Alexi with me. A few people mentioned it was mostly geared for older kids. I also looked at the website and it seems that way as well, though it did mention a toddler zone. Well, just for the record, Alexi went and he had a blast!

We arrived and Joy met us at the entrance. We hit it off immediately, and I can honestly say I'd enjoy hanging out with her without the kids anytime! She was friendly and easy to talk to, and the conversation was fresh and engaging. She told me a lot about the museum and how it offers many cool programs including apprenticeships for high schoolers, birthday parties and field trips. The field trips sounded the most amazing to me! A professional educator collaborates with your teacher before the field trip to create a visit that will integrate with the class' current curriculum or study theme. How cool is that?

The whole downstairs was completely "touchable" for Alexi and Matthew, my 8 year old. When we first rounded the corner there was a green screen play structure with slide (this is where Alexi spent the majority of his time). A special camera loaded with some nifty software superimposed my tot onto a computer screen of fiery flames...that'll teach him next time he misbehaves! Math ran in the other direction toward the nearest computer monitor and set to work. I didn't see him again for another 30 minutes. The whole downstairs floor was pretty open so I could see both kids as they ran around and explored the puppet theater, dress up station, and block building space. Matthew eventually set up shop in the Animators Studio and didn't come out for over an hour.

The Animators Studio was something most kids don't get to see or experience till their first year of film school. There were tables of tools and "gut clay," or trash clay, that Math used to flesh out his designs over wire frames. Then he was given more expensive, colored clay to "skin" his creations. Math decided to make a scary flying ghost so the animator assistant provided him with some fishing line (hey, they thought of everything). After he'd made his ghosts, he chose a set complete with model ghost house and backdrop. A mounted camera was connected to a computer with iStopMotion software, which was pretty easy and intuitive to use. After some simple instructions he put together the short clip that's shown at the bottom of this post. They e-mailed me the clip before we left. All tolled the whole process took about an hour start to finish...and he was totally engrossed the whole time. Kid was on fire, he was so interested and excited!

There were a ton more things to explore at Zeum (a music production lab where you can make your own rock video, a multimedia lab, and lots more). If we'd had the time (and Alexi hadn't hit his breaking point...you see, he needs to eat a lot) we'd have stayed another 3 million hours, I'm sure. While there were a lot of things for the big kids to do, I have to say, Alexi had his fair share of things to play with, too. I'm glad I brought him.

After we left the Zeum, we checked out their store (hey, it's hard to resist). We picked up some great birthday gifts for some upcoming parties that weekend. Then, as luck would have it, the Metreon was right across the street. We had ourselves a wonderful lunch at our favorite Pizza joint, and then took a ride on the Carousel before heading home. In all, a very fun day in The City!

Zeum Claymation Short made by my 8 year old


  1. i love that claymation. zeum is an incredible experience. i wish we had had zeum when i was a tot!

  2. Catherine, you take wonderful pictures, and your blog is very well written.