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The constant tug-of-war between education and fun finds middle ground inside this Central Jersey children’s museum, as entertaining exhibits and engaging staff members embed knowledge in each young visitor. Young guests can play veterinarian at the Pet Vet Center, read the news and see themselves on television at the TV News Room, or shed light on the complexities of the human body inside a replica doctor’s office outfitted with realistic equipment.
A motorcycle, retired fire engine, and a grounded airplane shows visitors the wonders of mechanized travel in the Varoom!!! Vehicle Showroom, which leads to an enchanted castle outfitted with a wooden drawbridge, a faux moat, and a new level 3 train exhibit. Party rooms manned by helpful staffers merge learning and celebration, and the onsite gift shop coaxes homebound brain building with a selection of scientific toys.
CBL Fine Art upgrades abodes with custom artwork, décor, and sundries honed by the keen eye of founder Connie Lior. For more than a quarter-century, the boutique has supported artists while cultivating a wide selection of uncommon gifts, including the Lillo Studio glass heart box($35), which ably stores jewelry or sets of gold dentures. The shop also specializes in Judaica, from frosted glass Shabbat candlesticks etched with the phrase Shabbat Shalom ($30), to Kiddush cups in materials such as stainless steel, pewter, and glass ($38+). Shoppers can frame an engagement photo or cake-topper portrait within a 4"x6" wedding frame($25) and finally learn Roman numerals with a stained-glass table clock ($55). Accommodating staffers happily provide complimentary shopping counsel or gift-wrapping services, saving customers the inconvenience of wrapping presents in newspaper or old graduate dissertations.
The beastmasters of Turtle Back Zoo fill the troughs of their squawking menagerie with the help of donations through the Adopt-an-Animal program. A framable adoption certificate commemorates the adoption of Turtle Back Zoo's endangered African penguins⎯the noble butlers of the Southern Hemisphere⎯and the donation funds fish reserves, maintenance, and medical needs. Bird-benefactors also receive a photograph of the newest, most feathered member of their family and a bumper sticker with which to emblazon vehicles with a message championing the plight of penguin expatriates. Lodged near the entrance to the zoo, the Adopt-an-Animal Honor Roll Board proclaims the names of trans-species foster parents to visitors and those studious penguins who have learned to read.
For over 40 years, the curatorial staff of Artist Frame Gallery have been stocking fine display items, art prints, and custom framing materials. A decade ago, interior designer Tena Mancini took over the seasoned establishment, and her keen eye for lively décor has informed the shop ever since. Tena stocks over 4,000 kinds of moulding, which can be used to enshrine unframed art, a fresh diploma, or the first draft of your novel. Influenced by Mancini's professional background, the gallery's diplomats can pay complimentary house- and office-calls to helpfully opine on framing and décor choices.
Step into the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts, and it's as if the Industrial Revolution never happened. The museum focuses on the life of farmers, builders, and other tradesman of the United State's pre-industrial age. The main floor thrusts visitors into the world of New Jersey farming families from the early 1800s to provide in-depth information about these peoples' lives as well as showcase woodworkers' planks and various hand tools. The lower level, meanwhile, celebrates the working lives of four tradesman from 1850, including a shoemaker and a distiller. While these permanent displays stand as time capsules of a bygone area, a special exhibit space rotates its features regularly. Only a small portion of the museum's artifacts is on display at a time, but visitors can make an appointment to see items from the full collection, which totals more than 8800 artifacts from 21 different trades.
Even without the artifacts, the museum stands as a piece of history, as it's housed within The James Library Building. The building was finished in 1900 and contains stained glass windows, carved stone and wood detailing, and vaulted ceilings that make it the perfect setting to imagine life before Henry Ford invented his flying car.