Standing in front of a mirror, 6-year-old Arabella Rush of Loganville picked up one lab coat, then another.
“No, those are too big — try this one,” her mother, Michelle Rush, said, handing the girl the doctor’s garment.
As Arabella reached her arms into the sleeves, Michelle looked on, smiling. Then, she handed her daughter a purple stethoscope.
“There you go,” Michelle Rush said. “The (outfit) is complete.”
Across the Children’s Museum of Atlanta on a recent Monday morning, kids of all ages and sizes ran around in similar doctor’s garb, some with stethoscopes hanging from their necks, others with toy needles in their hands, still more with blood pressure cuffs wrapped around their arms.
Though playing dress-up is an integral part of “Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit,” the Children’s Museum’s newest offering intends for children and families to get hands-on in the magical McStuffins Toy Hospital in other ways, too, with or without donning a lab coat.
Based on Disney Junior’s Peabody Award-winning television series “Doc McStuffins” and produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Disney Junior and Riley Children’s Health at Indiana University Health, the goal of the exhibit, said Chief Operating Officer for Riley’s Children’s Health, Paul Haut, is to provide an opportunity for children to become comfortable in a health care setting.
“It is a heavy order to convince children that going to see the doctor is not scary,” Haut said. “But it can be done through educational and interactive experiences, which help them understand that what we do is help keep people healthy. By teaching visitors about healthy habits, such as practicing good hand hygiene, exercising regularly and eating well, we hope this exhibit will put children’s minds at ease, while supporting our mission to keep all children healthy.”
Those healthy habits were reinforced by parents at the exhibit, who reminded their children to “wash” their hands in the exhibit’s plastic sinks before operating on Dragon-Bot or performing a physical on a baby doll that had been plucked from the nursery — an area popular with both boys and girls, said Heidi Blackwell, marketing manager for the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.
“The nursery seems to be hopping, and we’ve actually had a really good balance of girls and boys, which is awesome,” Blackwell said. “The kids seem to be really engaged with the exhibit (as a whole), though. They’re running around with their stethoscopes — I think they really are getting it.”
Henry Hudgins, who tottered around the exhibit with his mother, Kristen, in tow, certainly seemed to be understanding it.
“(Henry) likes to play with his doctor set at home, so this is right up his alley,” Kristen Hudgins said. “(The exhibit) is really cute; I think they did a really good job.”
Michelle Rush echoed Hudgins, saying she thought the exhibit was done well — something Arabella apparently agreed with, given her excitement as she navigated the emergency room, doll in hand.
“I didn’t tell her we were coming to the museum, so when we got inside — there’s a T-Rex that’s wearing a T-shirt that says Children’s Museum of Atlanta — I was like, ‘Read that,’ and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to go see Doc!’” Michelle Rush said. “She loves it. It’s a lot of fun and she seems to be having a blast.”
The exhibit, which opened June 8, runs through Sept. 8. For more information or tickets, visit childrensmuseumatlanta.org.