One of those rare Wander Indiana/Maryland blogs where we actually wander Indiana. In particular a destination that Indianapolis is famous for. Well one of the destinations Indianapolis is famous for. The big attraction has to be the Indianapolis Speedway. For me, visiting the Kurt Vonnegut museum and the James Whitcomb Riley house were always high not he list but the other place was always the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. Long one of the very best children’s museums in the world. ICM offers a variety of seasonal, topical and scientific considerations for kids to wonder, wander and explore. I used to take my class there at least once a year when I was teaching. It is easier to excite young children about learning via science and exploration than virtually anything else. Giving them the opportunity to not only ask why but break it down and figure it out is beyond a gift. First off, if you have kids and you go to Indianapolis, plan on a day at least to explore this amazing museum. Historical presentations of Indiana. scientific exploration and without a doubt one of the coolest holiday seasonal displays make the museum beyond amazing.
I think the first thing we got upon returning to Indiana in 1999 (as far as living in Indiana. We visited frequently from Cincinnati) Barb wanted to get a season pass to the Children’s Museum. I suspect over the course of the next seven years (she went back to school when the boys were in Elementary School but late Elementary school) they went to the Children’s Museum frequently. It was a place, as you see in the top picture where scientific principles were demonstrated. But it was also a place where kids can get hands on with exhibits. Not static art that is looked at and considered, a discussion among adults. Hands on, interactive displays that you can touch. Walk a child through a museum, their natural instincts are to pick them up, to manipulate them. So it is no wonder that most kids by the time they are teenagers don’t like museums. They find the controlled, managed displays well too distant. The Children’s museums of the world work to break that barrier. To break the fifth wall of museums (DO NOT TOUCH THE DISPLAYS) to make the displays more two way. There is much to learn from creative young minds. Plus, they are only young once.
I know, when we took the boys to the Field Museum in Chicago, that they struggled with the whole not touching thing (well Nick really struggled with all the dead animals but that is a different sensitivity issue). At the Children’s Museum there is so much to do. My personal favorite display is the intricate water clock in the main entrance of the museum. Once you pass the front entrance the entire museum is open all the way to the roof five floors above. That open foyer is where the water clock is. I can admit that I have stood there amazed by the flow of water. I also know, the feeling of a stroller botching with boys ready to explore, and STOP STARING at the stupid clock dad. There is something about an interactive museum that just works. Beyond show, in a controlled environment, allow discovery. I know in part, my personal belief in non-static, interactive displays comes from the fact that I was taught the inquiry method my entire life. But I believe there is amazing power in letting children discover the world. Let them see what is there, for themselves and then when it is said and done, talk to them about what else is possible. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a great place for children and adults to shake off the burning reality of DO NOT TOUCH museums and just have fun, together!