Melissa Blumenthal, from Hawthorn, is the clever mama behind the East’s hottest new destination for kids, Interaxcity Children’s Museum in Malvern. Interaxcity is designed to foster creativity, curiosity and learning through imaginative play. Set amidst a scaled-down, indoor “mini-city”, Interaxcity is a place where kids are the community heroes and can take on any role from a postie, pilot, chef, mechanic and so much more.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
Right now Interaxcity is my newest “baby” but I am a very proud mama of 3 girls aged 5, 7 and 12 plus a “pawrent” of Cody, a super cute miniature groodle. Lucky for my hubby, Cody helps even up the testosterone in our household.
What were you doing before Interaxcity?
My background is in advertising, strategic marketing and consumer research where I was lucky enough to gain exposure to so many iconic Australian and international household brands such as Cadbury, L’Oreal, Heinz, Sorbent, TAC & Wolf Blass.
How did the idea for Interaxcity come about?
The light bulb moment happened whilst holidaying overseas when we stumbled across a number of different children’s museums in the USA. There was nothing like it back home. My eldest daughter (who was four at the time) was so engrossed with exhibits and didn’t stop talking about it for weeks afterwards. It was clear then that Melbourne really needed its own children’s museum to create that sort of long-lasting magic for all Melburnians.
At what point did you decide it was time to quit your day job and work on Interaxcity full time?
Although Interaxcity has been a work-in-progress for around 8 years now, it wasn’t until I was on maternity leave with my third daughter that I finally decided it was time to really pursue this crazy little idea properly and bring Interaxcity to life. Its been a full-time undertaking for quite a while now.
Tell us a bit about what kids can expect at Interaxcity.
Unlike a regular museum, a children’s museum is a space where kids are allowed (and are actually encouraged) to touch and engage with all the exhibits. At Interaxcity, we chosen to set our museum up against the backdrop of a mini-city complete with its own airport, construction site, florist, house, medical centre, post office, restaurant, service station and supermarket.
We invite all kids to be community heroes of the city and to use their imagination as they take on whatever role they wish, from a builder to a pilot or the owner of the local flower shop.
Within the purpose-built city, children can explore and engage in hands-on exhibits with their caregivers, stimulating creativity, curiosity and learning through imaginative play.
We run four 90-minute sessions Monday-Saturday, plus parties and private events on Sundays. We have found kids are having so much fun, that there’s no stopping for snack breaks and the only tears we see is when it’s time to leave! It has been a blast to see the smiles on so many faces.
How did you go about creating a children’s museum from scratch?
It’s been a true labour of love, blood, sweat and tears! It’s not like you can buy a children’s museum exhibit off the shelf!! We had heaps of fun sourcing items from all over.
Australia Post was extremely supportive and helped us with the authentic mailbox that has been a huge hit with our community heroes. Our aeroplane features a genuine set of Qantas economy seats from a 737 and even the bench in our park is from the grounds of Toyota’s old car factory. Most of the other items had to be hand-crafted to be just the right height for kids.
What’s your favourite part about living in the East?
We love the accessibility. There are so many great parks, café’s, restaurants and shopping precincts….and of course you can’t go past the friendly neighbourhood vibe.
What’s your fave thing about being a mum?
If I had to choose one, I would say being loved and being there for my girls, hubby and furbaby through all the highs, lows and obstacles life has to offer and navigating them together, creating stronger bonds and connections.
Where do you love to hang out as a family?
We’re often scooting or riding along Gardiner’s Creek trail, visiting our local parks (so Cody and the girls can burn off energy) or stopping for breakky at many of the great local cafes. Our favourites haunts are the Foodstore Cafe and Bakers Wife.
And finally, care to share with us a funny parenting story?
As all mamas would agree, the first weeks of a newborn’s life are challenging and getting out of the house and getting anywhere on time is almost impossible. When my first daughter was born, we had a 6 week check up with the Pediatrician and I was so excited that for once, the stars aligned and my baby daughter had woken, fed and we could get out the house in time for our appointment. I was super proud of this accomplishment and feeling so chuffed I went to get her out of the car seat. Her pure white jumpsuit had turned mustard….yup it was a complete [poo] explosion and I had no idea where to start. We did eventually get to the appointment after a massive clean-up, another feed and nappy change later!