If you’re anything like me, you’re welcoming the cooler temps and starting to fret about the shorter days. Wondering what to do when the weather turns cooler and the playground visits aren’t as lengthy? Baltimore’s museum community has the answer. There are tons of visiting exhibits that are either here or beginning in the next few weeks that are both (cool) and kid-friendly.

If you think culture-seeking is an activity best left to the over 5 crowd or the thought of taking your two year old to an art exhibit makes you apoplectic, think again. Museums are places of wonderment, exploration, learning, and fun for the entire family. More and more, museums are adding hands-on or family-friendly activities to their exhibits – – evident in these upcoming Charm City attractions.

Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic at the Walters: Love the I Spy books? Then you and your kids are going to love this newest exhibit coming to the Walters Art Gallery on September 19th. Sprung from the imagination of Walter Wick (author of Can You See What I See? and the I Spy book series loved by millions of children and adults around the world), this exhibition features a selection of Wick’s early photographs, handcrafted, meticulously detailed installation models accompanied by large-format color photographs that are the illustrations in his children’s books. Together they will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the artist’s creative process and a window into the puzzles and illusions for which he is so well known. Challenge your kiddos on a puzzling pursuit throughout the exhibit – – as Wick has left a plethora of riddles throughout for museum-goers to solve. Have an older child? Sign him or her up for a special two-part art class inspired by Wick’s work. Meet the author in person on September 19th from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM during a book talk and signing. The exhibit runs through January 2, 2011 and tickets are $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors, $6 for students and young adults (18–25), free for members and children 17 and under. Continue your exploration of Wick during the Enoch Pratt Library’s Childrens book week celebration at the end of October! They’re planning tons of Wick-inspired events!

Bob the Builder: Project Build It! at Port Discovery
Bob the Builder and his Can-Do Crew invite aspiring builders and their families to help get the job done, as the first-ever hands-on Bob the Builder – Project: Build It traveling museum exhibit comes to Port Discovery Children’s Museum. This 2,000 square-foot multimedia exhibit is inspired by HIT Entertainment’s top rated television series, Bob the Builder – Project: Build It and replicates elements from Bob the Builder’s world, inviting exploration, inspiring teamwork and bringing environmentally friendly building themes to life for children and families. Children can practice their own fixing with kid-smart activities that build up their Can-Do attitudes and encourage them to be an active part of Bob the Builder – Project: Build It. Families can also work together to install new parts to sinks in Bob the Builder’s mobile home and in his building workshop, and learn about water conservation, courtesy of exhibit presenter Delta Faucet. Children and their families can help Bob build the vehicle shelter and experiment with tools in Bob’s building workshop.

Ahoy, Matey! The Pirates are SHIPWRECKED at The Maryland Science Center
Opening October 1, 2010, Odyssey’s SHIPWRECK! Pirates & Treasure, comes to the Maryland Science Center! This is a new exhibit featuring the compelling stories behind some of the world’s most famous shipwrecks, their treasure historic artifacts and pirates. Multiple hands-on interactive exhibits and cutting- edge computer games engage visitors with the adventure and excitement of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, as well as intrigue them with pirate history and legend. And get ready for some raucous Halloween fun. Emma Connor, promotions coordinator at the Center, informed us via email that they are in the middle of planning a pirate-themed Halloween event on 10/30!

Be inspired by GENESIS at Green Spring Station
This fall, bold and dynamic outdoor sculptures by area artists enliven Green Spring Station as Baltimore Sculptors, Inc and James L. Pierce Gallery present Genesis, an inaugural art show to feature 20+ sculptures that will be displayed outdoors throughout the Baltimore County center. Beginning September 17, 2010, the walls and open space throughout Green Spring Station will feature sculptures by local artists ranging in size from two feet to more than 21 feet. The inaugural show will continue throughout the year and then new work showings will be planned every eight – twelve months. Soak up some culture with the kiddos, then hit up The Nut Farm and Creamery for a scrumptious frozen treat, and browse the racks at Wee Chic. Perfect outing.

Discover what makes YOU smile at the American Visionary Art Museum!
In celebration of its 15th Anniversary, the American Visionary Art Museum will mount its most delight-filled exhibition to date, exploring just “What Makes Us Smile?” The exhibit opens on October 9th and is curated by master humorist and creator of The Simpsons Matt Groening, artist Gary Panter, and AVAM Founder Rebecca Hoffberger. This mega exhibition on the timeless and global phenomena of smiling, laughter and humor will include contributions by dozens of artists, including comedian Michael Baldwin’s spectacular vintage toy assemblages created from toys collected from five decades of his dedicated dumpster diving, and a seven-thousand toothbrush welcome mat that uses bristles and color to invite a “SMILE” from all who enter. It’s sure to be one of those exhibits that has something for everyone – – delighting infants through centenarians. Best part? Kids 6 and under are always free at AVAM! Adult admission is $12.95.

Snap, Crackle and POP your child’s imagination with Andy Warhol at the Baltimore Museum of Art
The Pop icon who coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame” is being celebrated at the Baltimore Museum of Art this fall. Opening October 17, 2010, “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade,” explores the late works of American artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and brings together more than 50 works that reveal the artist’s energetic return to painting and renewed spirit of experimentation during the last decade of his life. This period shows the celebrity Pop icon creating more paintings and on a vastly larger scale than at any other moment of his 40-year career. Highlights drawn from national and international public and private collections include psychologically revealing self-portraits, Rorschach and camouflage paintings, and three variations on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper that stretch 25 to 35 feet in width, immersing the viewer in dramatic fields of color. Admission to the BMA is free – – but special exhibitions often have an additional ticket price. We could not find a ticket price on the website.