The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is certainly one of our more cherished landmarks downtown. Throughout the years they’ve established themselves as the place for elementary school field trips, family weekend excursions, and tourist visits from all over the country. And their impact to our city doesn’t go unnoticed–in March they received an official #1 ranking from USA Today as the best ‘Museum for Families’ in the country! With their new ticket pricing model, as long as you can plan well in advance the day you want to go, there are significant savings to be had! (To learn more about the pricing, check out the Children’s Museum Plan-Ahead Pricing FAQ) What follows is a list of some of the more notable exhibits that are currently on display, plus some that are set to reach Indy this summer!
Dinosphere – Now You’re in Their World
This may be the most impressive and well-known permanent exhibit at the museum. Dinosphere is a totally immersive world designed to take visitors back 65 million years ago. The first thing you’ll notice are the huge skeletons of Tyrannosaurs, Triceratops and Maiasauras placed amongst a breadth of foliage and neon lights, all under a partial dome that shows a dazzling colored sky. These full-sized skeletons are meant to show the impressive scale of these ancient beasts. There are interactive sections where kids can dig for dinosaur bones as well. Recently, alongside their ‘Best Museum for Families’ award, this very Dinosphere exhibit was ranked the third best place in the world for dinosaur fans!
Fireworks of Glass
Starting on the lower level and stretching all the way to the top floor is the Fireworks of Glass sculpture by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. This bad boy features over 3,200 vividly colorful pieces of swirling glass, all seemingly stuck together to form a massive, multi-story tower. Below the sculpture, you’ll find a revolving platform made to allow guests to lie down and gaze upwards towards the base of this magnificent artistic feat.
Circus – Starring You!
Currently on display until the end of Fall 2017 is Circus. Separated into three rings, this exhibit features a plethora of interactive circus games, toys, and paraphernalia. Guests can ride in a clown car as they cruise through a section of real circus artifacts in ring one. Ring two offers you the chance to be a real circus act as you attempt the lyra ring, rolla bolla, and even walk a virtual tightrope via a real Virtual-Reality headset. Ring three holds circus costumes for dressing up, or you can try your hand at juggling. The Circus exhibits leaves town on Nov. 26, so catch it while you can.
Carousel Wishes and Dreams
What was once the crown jewel of Broad Ripple Park back in 1917, this authentic Carousel resides on the fourth floor of the museum. Each animal was salvaged from the original ride which featured numerous horses, giraffes, lions, tigers and more. Also in this fantastical area are other carnival-like exhibits such as a maze of mirrors, a life-size kaleidoscope, a puzzle arcade and tree house. Museum members and children ride for free, while non-members will be charged $1.
Beyond Spaceship Earth
As one of the most immersive projects at the museum, Beyond Spaceship Earth takes visitors into the world of space travel as they explore NASA’s Project Mercury program which took humans into space for the first time. Here you’ll find authentic astronaut artifacts including ways the astronauts live in space and the history of this mission. Learn how astronauts did experiments in space and try on genuine NASA gear. Be sure to also check out the Schaefer Planetarium and Space Object Theater for more space-related fun.
Another very popular exhibit is Scienceworks. Hydrologists, naturalists, and geologists are the heroes here as kids can explore the processes used by engineers, farmers and more. Guests are encouraged to use field journals to figure out mystery species in caves, hills, and fields, as well as use Doppler radar to forecast weather and investigate a miniature water system to learn how we clean, manage and create energy using water. They can also get behind the wheel of a John Deere, and examine real amphibians in a pond. This environmentally-based exhibit, like the museum as a whole, is full of educational fun.
Take Me There: China
China’s rich history and culture are on display at the Take Me There: China exhibit. With a real, modern Chinese airplane on site, you’re able to “take flight” over famous Chinese landmarks like The Great Wall and The Forbidden City. As traditional and contemporary Chinese music plays in the background, try your hand at using chopsticks or playing Chinese instruments. On the educational side of things, curators have put together a presentation showing the challenges conservationists face while trying to save the panda.
Treasures of the Earth
Treasures of the Earth shows guests what lies beneath the surface. Whether that be remnants of an ancient Caribbean shipwreck, the burial site of Terra Cotta warriors or the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Seti I, this exhibit is truly a mystery. In the archaeology lab, check out real archaeologists working on actual artifacts. This whole exhibit was created in partnership with National Geographic, so you know you’re in for a real treat.
Hot Wheels: Race to Win
Coming in mid-May is the Hot Wheels: Race to Win exhibit. Here, kids can become a part of a real race team while they work together to build and test these genuine diecast cars.
American Pop: The Galleries for American Arts and Popular Culture
As an upcoming permanent interactive exhibit, American Pop explores the iconic pop culture memorabilia that shapes our society both currently, and in the past. Take infamous outfits from movies and TV, check out vintage comic books and view the recently acquired Batman collection.
Dance! is a part of the aforementioned American Pop collection and is set to feature a stage for both kids and adults to showcase their best recreations of famous dance moves from throughout the decades.