The Columbus Museum of Art has just unveiled its new and bigger self! And it offers families more learning and art-appreciation opportunities than ever. Read on to find out all the big and little details that make an already great museum even greater now!

The Columbus Museum of Art has just unveiled its new and bigger self! And it offers families more learning and art-appreciation opportunities than ever. Read on to find out all the big and little details that make an already great museum even greater now!

CMA by the Names and Numbers

*The Margaret M. Walter Wing: That's the official name of the new, 50,000 square-foot addition that is sheathed in pre-patinized copper (giving it that cool green color). You'll also hear people call it "the Walter Wing" or "the east wing."

*The Elizabeth M. and Richard M. Ross Building: That's the official name of the original wing where the Center for Creativity, the Wonder Room and the Derby Court still reside. You'll hear it called "the historic building."

*$63.7 million: That's the total cost of the three-phase, seven-year Art Matters renovation and expansion, which now puts CMA on a par with other world-class art museums.

Logistics

*The museum is located at 480 E. Broad St. (Discovery District), Columbus 43215. It's on the #10 COTA bus line.

*The new entrance is situated at the northeast corner of the building, near the intersection of East Gay and North Washington streets.

*It looks as if the parking lot is smaller, but it actually has the same number of parking spots. And parking is still free in that lot.

*The gift shop is located near the entrance and you don't need to pay admission to visit it. Gift wrapping is also free!

*The new hours will be: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, except Thursdays when they'll stay open until 9 p.m. Closed Mondays.

*Admission rates are: $14 for adults (an increase of $2), while rates for seniors and students 6 and older remain $8; and free for CMA members, children 5 and younger. Admission is free for all on Sundays. On Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., admission is "pay what you like." A household membership, which also gets you into more than 500 other North American art museums, costs $75 per year. Teachers get a 15 percent discount on any membership package.

*Contact info: 614-221-4848 or visit columbusmuseum.org.

Welcome Back!

Several longtime faves are back and being displayed in very cool ways.

*Spirit (aka The Barrel) has its own little gallery, built specifically for the piece. At the request of the artist, Mel Chin, the walls are slightly bowed (stand next to one and look down the length of the wall: you'll see it). It's all supposed to give you a "cocoon-y" feeling…and it does! You're allowed to crawl under the suspended barrel (don't worry: it's attached to the ceiling).

*Nocturne Navigator (aka The Blue Lady) by artist Alison Saar was in the Derby Court but, because of the bright light there, you didn't really get the full effect of the pin-pricks of light shining out through her skirt. Now she has her own custom-built gallery and you can see the lights, which represent the map of stars that slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad used to navigate their way north to freedom.

*Endeavor (aka The Glass Boats): Speaking just as parents here, we are relieved to see this beautiful glass art, which artist Lino Tagliapietra uses to represent Venetian canal boats, safely hoisted high up in the air over the entrance atrium, away from little hands and noggins.

Helpful Hints for Visiting with Kids

*According to CMA spokeswoman Nancy Colvin, a weekday afternoon is the best time to visit with small children: It's not as crowded as the weekends.

*While backpack-style child carriers are not allowed in the museum, you can borrow umbrella strollers from the admission desk - for free! The whole building is now stroller-accessible and there are more elevators available to use.

*The best way to engage kids with art, said Colvin, is to "ask kids what they see." Encourage them to have a seat on the floor (or available seating) and just look. Bring a pencil (but not a pen) and paper, and ask them to draw their own interpretation of what they're looking at, or even a map of where they've been.

Explore and Create

CMA offers a wide range of art classes and creative experiences for kids, teens and families. For sessions where registration is required, call 614-629-5947. In addition to their very popular Summer Art Workshops, you can also access:

*Open Studio Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. where visitors of all ages can explore ideas, solve creative challenges and collaborate on creations. No registration required and it's free with regular admission.

*SURGE: Open Studios for Teens is a drop-in program for teens on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m. and Fridays from 2-5 p.m. They can experiment with technology and art supplies. It's free (no regular museum admission is required).

*The Wonder Room is always open when the museum's open and offers a variety of hands-on arts activities for all ages, plus a creative play space. It's free with regular museum admission.

*Homeschool Workshops take place October through May, on the third Thursday of each month. Cost for CMA members is $7 per child. Registration is required.

*Young Child Studios are hands-on workshops designed for children, 18 months to 5 years old, plus a caregiver. The next ones are scheduled for Nov. 5 and 19, Dec. 3 and March 22. The cost is $8 per child plus adult and child admission, and registration is required.