See Louisville’s immersive children’s museum, AHOY

Rendering by Portland Museum and Weber Group

This Sun., May 22 is the opening reception for the Portland Museum’s “Adventure House of You,” Louisville’s first immersive, experimental children’s museum — aka AHOY. While the museum is far from being open, guests can see new design plans + concepts from 2-5 p.m., but before you set sail, let’s take a deep dive into the project slated to open in the fall of 2023

When the Portland Museum acquired the Victorian property next door, it could’ve taken the safe route and expanded the museum to feature Portland’s maritime heritage through artifacts + photos, but that wouldn’t be “keeping Louisivlle weird” would it?

Rendering by Portland Museum + Weber Group

Instead, with the help of Louisville-founded Weber Group, they’ve reimagined the 19th century Victorian house into a progressive concept inspired by St. Louis’ City Museum, the Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Oregon + Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. 

AHOY will have both indoor and outdoor explorable spaces with nods to the geological and biological history of the area — think arrowheads, flood-covered building foundations + fossil beds. It’ll also feature the rich nautical culture of Portland, one Louisville’s oldest neighborhoods.

Rendering by Portland Museum + Weber Group

And the museum won’t just be made for children, they’re on board to help generate ideas about what the installations should be and look like via a children’s committee composed of neighborhood kids

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this immersive + experiential playhouse museum will be, so allow us to show you the ropes

Rendering by Portland Museum + Weber Group

Patrons can enter AHOY through a portal (or PORTL) in the existing Portland Museum building, before traveling through a mysterious tunnel with glowing lights into a glass atrium full of natural light. Next, a staircase will lead visitors into a 19th century farmhouse “where local heritage meets surrealism.” 

A look inside the house

  • A hallway leading into a mouth of giant catfish (where a dining room should be)
  • Underwater-themed walls with blown glass bubbles + river rock mosaics
  • Life-sized boatdeck in place of a parlor room 
  • Smaller rooms decorated with locally found objects
  • Secret marble closet 
  • Office with carved tree trunks 
  • Giant driftwood nest in the master bedroom with a huge seabird breaking through the ceiling 
  • Trap doors that send visitors back to the beginning of the house 

Go outside

  • Covered patio
  • A natural massive tree canopy 
  • Mini treehouse built on remnants of Captain Mary’s steamboat 
  • Mosaic wave wall with built-in benches
  • Devonian fossil dig
  • Carved tree-shaped lamp posts made with recycled materials