Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Click! Dinos in Indianapolis

This past week I was in Indianapolis for a few days and took the chance to visit the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, a place I'd been interested in seeing for a long time.   I found a busy museum that had thought about so many ways to connect with visitors.  So here, the first of several posts, this one focusing on the dinosaur exhibit;  others to come about Barbie and more.  The thoughtfulness begins with the entrance to the exhibit:  it's a spectacular walk down a ramp, with the biggest introductory label I've ever seen.
But that big label also expresses the exhibit's big idea very clearly.  Up close, it says,
Right!  A big idea with a subject, a very, and a consequence (that's the we learn part).   And then the exhibit provided so many different ways to learn and explore.  Active questioning really provided ways for kids old enough to read--and any parent or caregiver--to delve deeper.
There were touch screens, but they were placed at kid height.   Other interactives were placed at varied heights, so everyone could enjoy them.  Although the space was theatrically lit, and the big fake rocks and bigger dinosaurs must have been important elements--and were for several of the kids I saw while visiting,  the whiz-bang of that had less interest for me--and perhaps for kids--than the things scaled to their size, that they could engage with.
I didn't get a picture of a great section about dinosaur babies that toddlers loved, diving in and out of big nests.  There was a lab, where scientists were at work (or were sometimes at work, not today) In the lab, there were various games, puzzles and other items--but each label said, "Today in the lab."  Those labels might say that day after day, but it made this space feel a bit special.  This struck me as such an easy thing to do in all kinds of exhibits.  You could have just a few items to change out on a regular basis.
And this exhibit had a rare thing:  a sense of humor shown best in a series of miniature dioramas--really miniature period rooms for dinosaurs,  as it were.
Why of course, they take the baby for a walk!   I don't have any huge interest in dinosaurs, but every element in this exhibit felt thoughtful, without being precious or controlling.  Lovely.

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
Browsing at wahooart.com the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, http://EN.WahooArt.com/@/EdwardHopper ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.