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The Story Behind Playscape's Rabbits

Slonem RabbitsIf you've had the chance to visit the new Playscape, you may have noticed all of the beautiful nature-inspired artwork. With so many animals "hiding" around Playscape, your little one is bound to find their favorite! Janna Bennett, American Collections Curator, shares the story behind these paintings, and how they can make your family's Playscape experience even more extraordinary.
 
Playscape offers many opportunities to climb and build; it also offers some incredible art to discover.  With a generous gift from the Joseph F. and G. Marlyne Sexton Family, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis acquired 110 paintings by contemporary artist Hunt Slonem. Over thirty of these paintings are featured throughout the Playscape gallery. 
 

Luna Moths _ Slonem

Slonem’s animal paintings delight and inspire viewers through his highly textured use of oil paints and bold use of color. His life long interest in painting animals has included everything from rabbits to elephants. The newly donated collection includes paintings of cockatoos, toucans, rabbits, tigers, and luna moths.
 
Hunt Slonem draws on personal experiences from the world around him to inspire his paintings. Since his youth, insects including moths have fascinated him. To create his 2008 Lunas on display in the art studio, Slonem studied real luna moths. He has always been drawn to their natural beauty and elegant forms.
 
His art allows you to talk with your child about his or her thoughts on a work of art. In each painting you’ll find excellent opportunities to examine the texture of the paintings. There are also touch panels that recreate a section of the artwork, allowing you to feel the roughness of the paint. On the Rabbit Wall, you’ll find individual portraits of rabbits that are a perfect opportunity to observe differences between rabbit expressions and composition. Keep an eye on those rabbits – the next time you visit there may be different ones on display!
 
Slonem’s paintings are one of many ways to experience the natural world in The Art Studio. Children and families can observe collections objects for inspiration. Ranging from natural science specimens like pine cones and minerals to textiles and hats, these artifacts are all made from natural materials that reflect the natural objects available to create original collages at the activity table. Elsewhere in the studio, images of paintings, sculptures, collages, textiles, carvings, and photographs from many different time periods and cultures encourage close observation of detail in the artwork.
 
Don't miss more rabbits in this Vine video, and a sneak peek at some of the paintings you'll see in the gallery in the photos below. Next time you're in Playscape, see if your little one can spot all of the animals in Hunt Slonem's paintings!
 
 
Untitled_Slonem Flock _ Slonem
birds_Slonem Tocos_ Slonem

 

 

Instagramming the Collection

GrammingWe're big fans of Instagramfollow us @childrensmuseum!—so when we had the chance to host a small group of avid Instagrammers, we were excited to see  what our collections would look like through the eyes (or, phones) of the @IGersIndy community. This guest blog post is written by Andrew Griswold (@the_gris), a co-founder of #IGersIndy who has coordinated Instameets throughout Indianapolis (and now the Children's Museum!) 
 
Hi everyone! My name is Andrew, and I'm a local photographer and avid Instagrammer here in Indianapolis. Instagram is a photo-sharing app that allows you to snap a photo, apply a cool filter, and then post it to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. You can then go back and see your photos in a gallery on your Instagram page. 
 
It was 5 years ago that I walked the exhibits of The Children's Museum as an Exhibit Graphic Design Intern thinking about how cool it would be to come back with my future kids to see and explore it again. Then I realized, what am I thinking?! The museum isn't just for kidsadults have just as much fun exploring the ins and outs of the exhibits!
 
This summer I'd begun organizing popular "Instameets" with avid Instagrammers at places like Monument Circle and Fountain Squareand the Children's Museum seemed like the perfect opportunity for the next Instagram "take-over." After connecting with Jenny and Lori from the museum's social media team, we had our chance.
 
Ten of us came out to the museum to  venture into parts of the museum that not everyone gets to see, including the vast American Collection with every toy you can imagine, the beautiful World Cultures collection, and the jaw-dropping Natural Science collection (complete with spare dinosaurs!) Being given absolute freedom to snap away was just amazing! You can follow the adventure at the #TCMinstameet hashtag on Instagram, where you can explore all of the photos taken by the wonderful crew that day. Below are some of my absolute favorite shots from the photo walkhope you enjoy! 
 
If you want to see more beautiful shots of the Circle City make sure to follow along @igersindy and tag your photos #igersindy for a chance to be highlighted on the page. If you want to stop by and say hey you can find me @the_gris.
 
The rest of the amazing crew can be found at the username's listed below, so make sure to follow along and say hi!
 

PaleoLab
@frychris

EntryRoom
@raiosunshine
Dinosaurs
@the_gris
snowshoes
@raiosunshine

Playscape
@brackus

acassle
@acassler
Silver Surfer
@frychris
SpiderMan
@enaknahgem
window@redblueox triceratops@bobewing_
darth@smjoyceindy han solo@the_gris
 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: August 9, 2013

All the science, astronomy and family news that was trending this week.

 

Keep your family talking this weekend! Here are some interesting stories you may have missed that will make excellent conversations for dinner, the car or otherwise:


Coming to a sky near you

Mark your calendars. The so-called "fireball champion" of meteor showers will take place this month and, according to NASA, peak on August 12 & 13. On those nights, it is recommended to get away from city lights, and look up to see more than 100 meteors per hour flash through the night’s sky. Learn more about this year’s Perseid meteor shower.

 

Dr. Seuss’ home  

“Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” Did you ever think and wonder what Dr. Seuss’ real home was like? If you’re imagining colors and no straight edges, you’ll be wrong. A rare photo, released by the Huffington Post, of the children’s book author’s 1957 home shows a quite normal Mediterranean-style stucco home. See for yourself.

 

A small blue dot  

When you’re located 898 million miles away, Earth looks like nothing more than a small blue dot. Last month, from the rings of Saturn, NASA's Cassini took a photo that captures this humbling view of our planet. Take a look.

 

The Earth Harp

It’s so large it can stretch across an entire concert hall. It’s made out of more than a dozen strings, and it can be adapted to its environment. It’s the world’s largest musical instrument. It’s the Earth Hap. Find out how William Close came up with the idea and invented this extravagant instrument.

 

Nature’s stained glass       

Similar to an Indiana geode, the inside of a meteorite is a pleasant surprise. According to Fast Company, hidden beneath its greyish-black, charred outside of the space debris is “iridescent mosaics in neons and golds.” See the beauty inside a meteorite.

 

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: August 2, 2013

All the science, astronomy, toy and family news that was trending this week.
 

We’ve been talking about sunbathing sea lion pups, stinky flowers and more all week! Want to join in on the conversation with your family? Check out these interesting news stories from around the web:

 

Sea lion pups soak in summer with SPF
On the beaches of San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands, sea lion pups are carried out of the water by their parents for an afternoon of sunbathing. Just like your kiddos, these young mammals need protection from the summer’s scorching sun. What’s nature’s equivalent of SPF 50? Sand. See photos of the small sea lions rolling in the beach sand.
 

277,275 dominoes topple

This July, 277,275 dominoes were set up to form astonishingly detailed images of space, celebrations, entertainment, sports and nature. With the simple touch of one domino, 277, 275 of the dominoes toppled for 10 minutes of marvelous toy fun. Watch.
 

Stinky flower blooms      

On July 21, visitors at the U.S. Botanic Garden got to see (and smell) history when a Titan arum, or “Corpse Flower” bloomed for the first time since 2007. Why the name “Corpse Flower”? Because for the estimated 24 to 48 hours that the flower will remain open, it smells a little like rotting flesh (yuck!). See photos of the flower in bloom.
 

Dogs aren’t as color blind as we thought

It’s long been thought that a dog sees its world through shades of black and white, but a new study is now debunking that thought. While their ability to see color is still limited compared to a human with full-color vision, the study reveals that dogs do, in fact, rely on color to notice differences between objects. Learn more about the Russian researchers’ study.  

 

The “comet of the century” is headed our way

Mark your calendars. This November a comet—Comet ISON—that left our solar system 110,000 years ago makes its return. And if it survives its journey toward the sun, we will be able to see the spectacle from Earth. Learn more about Comet ISON’s journey.  
 

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 26, 2013

All the science, astronomy, toy and family news that was trending this week
 

Keep your family table talk rolling this weekend. From a robot doing pushups to an amazing LEGO artist, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:
 

Thirty years of robot development

It can walk. It can run. It can do pushups. It can climb. What is it? It’s a 6-foot, 330-pound humanoid robot. It’s Atlas. Developed by Boston Dynamics, the recently unveiled robot with 28 operating joints is designed to help us with disaster response, and is a reminder of how far robot development has come. Take a look at CNET’s evolution of humanoid robots over the past 30 years.

Rainbow clouds     

In Noida, India, just after a summer rain, Harish Venkatesh noticed a wisp of color hovering over a cloud and took a photo. With that, a rare look at an iridescent cloud, or a “rainbow cloud,” was preserved. Learn what causes this breathtaking occurrence.


A functional LEGO microscope      

Carl Merriman has been building things out of LEGO® bricks for more than 27 years. His latest project? A sleek microscope … that works! While you can’t use it to study all microscopic matter, it can “bring the writing on a LEGO® stud in and out of focus.” Check it out.
 

Washing hair in space

When you’re living in zero-gravity, the simple tasks performed on Earth every day aren’t quite the same. For example, how do astronauts wash their hair in space? Watch International Space Station astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrate.

Martial arts instructor by day, LEGO artist by night   

When he’s not teaching martial arts, Matt Armstrong is building stuff with LEGO® bricks. From vintage cameras to top hats, Armstrong’s creations vary in a wide range of styles. See some of his latest creations he showed off at Star Wars Days at the nearby Legoland®.

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

 

The Making of the Online History

Online History Screen GrabThis guest blog post was written by Skip Berry, researcher and author of the newly unveiled Children’s Museum Online History. Skip has also written or co-written the histories of the Indianapolis Art Center, Herron School of Art and Design, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Indianapolis Public Library. He often remarks that he’s writing the cultural history of Indianapolis one institution at a time!
 
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has a long and illustrious history—and now you can read all about it on your computer or smart phone, wherever you may be. The Children’s Museum is one of the few museums in the country to have its entire history online, complete with photographs, illustrations, and video clips. Because of my experience writing the histories of other Indianapolis institutions, when I was approached to help The Children’s Museum update its history I jumped at the chance!
 
You see, when I was asked to take on the project, the conversation was much about the value of doing another book versus creating an online history. Having already done several books, I immediately weighed in on the side of doing an online version. As much as I love books—not only how they read, but what they look like and their heft in my hand—any institutional history writer will tell you that published histories are out of date before they even leave the bindery.
 

Children's Membership

But an online history—now that was something tantalizing. Unlike the conventional book, an online history can be continuously updated. Once the hard work of researching and writing about the past is done, a staff person can make periodic additions to ensure the history is up to date instead of obsolete.
 
So the unanimous decision was to put the museum’s history online. When I began to look for examples from other institutions, I was amazed to discover very few. Most museums with any kind of online histories kept them brief—some were bulleted timelines, others one- or two-page summaries. Very few even tried to provide visitors with any sense of how the institution had developed—and some of the ones that did, didn’t do it very well, using either dense blocks of text or making navigation too difficult. 
 
Sensing an opportunity, those of us working on the early stages of the project realized that without a model to use for guidance, we could create the model. That realization affected how we designed the project—making it a series of linked articles rather than a running narrative as a book would have.
 
The result is a stand-alone Web site that looks, feels and acts like what it was meant to be—its own entity with its own identity: the history of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. You can’t dog-ear the pages, write in the margins or underline favorite passages (though I hope you have some favorite passages). But you can learn a lot about the museum’s origins and the key people who’ve left their marks on it, about past exhibits and artifacts in its collection, and about the various buildings it occupied before the current one.
 
Most importantly, what you have is an example of what an online can be: a valuable tool and an easily accessible source of information to settle those dinner table disagreements about where the carousel came from or how many objects were originally in the Caplan Collection.
 
There wasn’t anything else out there like what we had in mind so we did what the museum has done throughout its history: We created it ourselves. We hope you like it, use it and let us know what you think.
 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 19, 2013

All the science, astronomy, history and family news that was trending this week.
 

From a three-year-old painter to Earth’s amazing transformations, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:
 

Painting at three years old  

Three-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw is autistic and is unable to speak, but she is able to express herself in another way: She paints. Her parents discovered this ability after putting her in art therapy. “We thought it was amazing, but we're her parents, so we think everything she does is amazing,” Iris Grace's father, Peter-Jon Halmshaw, told Leicestershire. Now that at least eight of the Monet-resembling paintings have sold, it is clear her parents aren’t the only ones who think she is amazing. See more of Iris Grace’s paintings.


Puppy helps kids overcome differences     

Meet Lentil Bean. He is a French Bulldog that was born with a cleft palate and lip. In order to eat on his own, Lentil underwent surgery to fix the palate, but not his lip. Because of his own facial difference, Lentil is now the ambassa-dog for children with craniofacial anomalies. Learn more about how he is helping these kids.


Waterslides and science      

On a hot summer day, not many things are more fun and exciting than a trip down a waterslide. But it’s not ALL fun and games. According to National Geographic, physicists  put a lot of “science” into providing a safe trip down. Take a look at the physics behind your summer ride down a waterslide.

 

Parenting from space  

It’s an age-old question for parents: Take a dream job, or stay at home to be with the kids? While there is no right answer, it is a question astronaut Karen L. Nyberg, who has a 3-year-old son, will be exploring for six months while orbiting Earth on the International Space Station. Although she is not the first astronaut to try parenting from space, Nyberg has agreed to work with a Scandinavian television documentary on motherhood, and has been open to discussing her current situation. Learn more.

 

Timelapse  

How has Earth changed in the last 28 years? That’s a question we can now watch the answer to. In May, TIME and Google released three decades of satellite imagery that have allowed users to discover some of our planet’s amazing transformations. Now you, too, can search for any location in the world and see how it has changed since 1984. Don’t forget to search for Indianapolis!


Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Story Behind the LEGO Phone

funky find revealHere's the story behind the LEGO Phone, one of the many funky finds from the Children's Museum collection!
By Jennifer Noffze, Museum Registrar/Archivist
 
This fun LEGO telephone is part of a large donation that we received in 2009.  Starting with Indianapolis Public School children in the 1920's,  the museum’s collection has been built through artifact donations.  Over the years, the collection has grown to encompass more than 120,000 objects, thanks in large part to our generous donors.
 
In 2009, Curator Andrea Hughes and I traveled to Chicago to meet with a donor.  This gentleman had an apartment filled with a wide assortment of toys, dolls, games, and fun pop culture items!  He had a particular fondness for Pink Panther items as his godfather was Isadore “Friz” Freleng, a well-known animator and cartoonist whose studio produced the opening animation for the 1963 film The Pink Panther.  Mr. Freleng also worked with artist Hawley Pratt to introduce or re-design a number of famous Warner Brothers characters, including Yosemite Sam in 1945.
 
Andrea chose 146 objects from this treasure trove to add to our permanent collection.  Highlights include:
 
  • 33 stuffed toys—including Warner Brothers favorites like Yosemite Sam, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck 
  • 30 Pink Panther items—board games, puzzles, costumes, books and stuffed figures
  • 11 boardgames—everything from The Flintstones to Pac-Man and Sweet Valley High
  • 10 books and 21 Little Golden books
  • 9 sets of Barbie trading cards
  • 8 puzzles—including my personal favorite, a “Where’s The Beef?” jigsaw puzzle
  • 7 telephones—in addition to the LEGO phone, we have a Coke bottle and can, robot, chocolate milk carton, Knight Rider and a high-heel shoe
  • 6 lunchboxes—Knight Rider, Annie and Punky Brewster to name a few
  • 5 Halloween costumes—the Pink Panther costume was included in our 100 Toys exhibit!
  • 4 sets of play food packages—perfect for that play kitchen!
  • 2 sets of Star Wars Micromachines
We've already used many items from this collection in various exhibits and we're sure to use them in a variety of ways in years to come.  A big thank you to all of our artifact donors for making our collection wonderful!
  

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 12, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, toy, and family news that was trending this week.

 

Were you too busy catching up after a long holiday weekend to pay close attention to family news stories? We’ve got you covered. From a bumpy-headed reptile to re-thinking fire in space, these are the interesting news stories that had us talking this week:


Bumpy-headed Reptile

“Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back,” Linda Tsuji, leader of a new study on the Bunostegos akokanesis, said in a statement to National Geographic. That is what the new fossils suggest the B. akokanesis looked like. So maybe the Pangea-roaming reptile didn’t win a prehistoric beauty contest, but it still looks cool to us. See for yourself.


Meet Thelma and Louise

The San Antonio Zoo received a very unique critter last month. It is less than two inches wide, it has a shell that is nearly the size of a penny, it is emerald green, and it has two heads. You read that right. The zoo’s latest animal on display is a two-headed turtle. Meet Thelma and Louise.


South America’s Earliest Empire    

Between 700 and 1000 A.D., the Wari people built an empire that flourished along the coastal area of modern-day Peru. Thousands of years later, researchers have discovered the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb, which includes the remains of three Wari queens. See National Geographic’s photos from Peru’s tomb.


Safety Hole

The last time you and your children played with LEGO® bricks, did you notice a hole on the top of each minifigure’s head? Did you wonder what the purpose of the hole was? If you guessed it was to stick a brick to the top of the minifigure’s head, you were wrong. The hole is a safety feature. It was designed to let air pass through a child’s windpipe if the small toy found its way into the child’s throat. Learn more.


Re-thinking Fire in Space     

We know what the flame of a candle looks like on Earth, but do you know what it looks like in space? Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts conducted an  experiment to better understand how flammable liquid fuels are in space. See the strange way heptane ignited during the experiment.


Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

 

 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: July 5, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, technology, and family news that was trending this week.
 

Keep the interesting conversations rolling this weekend. From 3-D printing to a solar-powered plane, these are the news stories that had us talking this week:


3-D Printing to the Rescue

Buttercup, the duck, was born with a backwards left foot. Because the foot would be prone to infection, Mike Garey, owner of the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., decided to amputate and find a new foot for the duck. Using 3-D software, Garey designed a replacement and sent it to NovaCopy, a 3-D printing company. With a new high-tech foot, Buttercup is now able to waddle with the other ducks. Learn more about the technology that saved a duck’s life here.

 

The Day the Sun Turned Green

Last month, on the side of the sun not visible from Earth, a storm of charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), exploded off the surface of the sun. See the Green Lantern photo captured by one of NASA's STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) spacecrafts.
 

Nature’s Newest Species
Found in Brazil, the Typhochlaena costae is nature's newest species of tarantula. The purple-tinted spider will either make your jaw drop or your skin crawl, but for the sake of curiosity, it is worth a look. Meet the Typhochlaena costae.

 

Ice and Fire
With more than 200 snow-covered volcanoes on Earth, researchers are asking the question, “What happens when molten lava is poured over ice?” To find an answer, scientists at the Syracuse University Lava Project conducted experiments that included melting 300 kg of lava and pouring it over ice. See what they discovered.
 

Solar Energy Flies a Plane
According to Time, 117 years after the first solar cell was discovered and 111 years after the first powered flight, the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California is now combining the technologies. The Solar Impulse HB-S1A will be the first solar-powered plane to fly across the United States in stages. While the research center has not yet designed a plane to carry passengers, The Solar Impulse might prove to be a step in that direction. Learn more about the solar-powered plane and its flight here.

 

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: June 28, 2013

Friday Family News Wrap-Up

All the science, history, astronomy, technology, and family news that was trending this week

 

Even in the summer, work weeks get busy and interesting news stories get missed. But don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the stories that had us talking this week and are excited to share them with you and your family!

A Walk of a Lifetime
This week, high-wire daredevil Nik Wallenda made history when he became the first human to ever cross the Grand Canyon on a wire. Take a deep breath and watch Nik walk 1,500 feet above the Colorado River without a safety tether or a net.

Cookin’ Up Martian Meals  

To prepare for future Martian expeditions, NASA is simulating life on the Red Planet. And what would life be like without food? It wouldn’t exist. That’s why NASA is studying how to prepare meals that will last up to five years, and how those meals can combat the astronauts’ “menu fatigue.” You can learn more about NASA’s research here.

 

A First Sound  

After becoming the first child in the country to receive an auditory brainstem implant, “Daddy loves you” was the first sound 3-year-old Grayson Clamp heard in his life. Watch Grayson’s reaction and learn his story.  

 

Costly Paper

They’re not currency, and they are not made of gold. But they are some of the most expensive pieces of paper in the world. They are postage stamps. While stamp collecting has been a hobby since the first stamp was printed, these rare stamps are not what you’d find in an average collection. Learn more.  

 

Glowing Clouds Light Up the Northern Night’s Sky

Every year, when the summer sun sets in the North Pole, Noctilucent clouds roll into the night’s sky. This year, however, the glowing clouds have appeared earlier than ever before. Take a look at these beautiful clouds.   

 

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: June 21, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, toy, and technology news that was trending this week.

Keep your family talking! Here are some interesting stories you may have missed that will make great conversations for dinner, the car, or otherwise.  

Family Friday News Wrap-Up

Prehistoric Dinos Make Dino History

For the first time in the history of modern paleontology, three triceratops have been unearthed at the same dig site. At 67 million years old, one of the three-horn-faced dinosaurs is said to be one of the most complete skeletons of a triceratops ever found. Check it out!

 

Baby Elephant Goes for a Swim

When a baby elephant in Thailand sees the sea for the first time, it decides to ditch a wedding ceremony and go for a swim. As you watch, say it with us: “Aww, cute!”

 

Freaky Forces of Nature

You’ve heard about thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, avalanches, floods, and even tidal waves. But did you know Mother Nature can also make it rain frogs and dodge balls? It’s true. Check out National Geographic KIDS’ “Ten Freaky Forces of Nature” list to see for yourself.

 

Who Is That on a Train?

Domestic and wild animals are learning to get around cities by hitching rides on public transportation. Motivated less by the fear of being late to work and more by food and security, these animal “commuters” are causing some concern for biologists and wildlife ecologists. From domestic cats to moneys, here are the five commuting animals.

 

They Did It Together

According to a new study, mommy and daddy dinosaurs parented together. While studying the incubation behavior of birds, scientists found that their dinosaur ancestors shared the responsibility of caring for the eggs. Read all about it here.

 

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

 

The Friday Family News Wrap-Up: June 14, 2013

All the science, history, astronomy, toy, and technology news that has been recently trending. 

Here are some interesting stories you may have missed that will make great dinner conversations with your family and keep them current and curious, even while enjoying Summer Break!

Power Player

Is your phone constantly running on a low battery? Leave it to a teen to find a solution. Eesha Khare, 18, invented a storage device that may be able to charge your phone in as little as 20 seconds. Check it out here.

Sunglasses at Night

NASA has been monitoring meteoroids crashing into the moon’s surface for years, but on March 17, one meteoroid made impact history. When it came into contact with the moon, the meteoroid made an explosion so big it was visible from Earth! If you’re as bummed as we are that you missed the FLASH, see it here.

Helmets for Everyone

A scrape on the knee. A goose egg on the head. A slip down a slippery slope. These types of injuries happen to all kids. They're kids! While we can’t protect our children from everything, we can take certain precautions to protect them from more severe injuries. Read more of The Huffington Post’s lesser-known tips to make your children safer here.

LEGO-People Do Have Hearts

When a loyal fan wrote a heartfelt letter to LEGO® explaining why he wasn’t able to purchase the LEGO® Emerald Night Train set, the toy company had a choice. LEGO® chose to make their fan’s dream come true with a special gift. See for yourself.

Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched?

Have you seen a man in the moon or a face in your lunch? Now a Berlin-based design studio, Onformative, is wondering if computers can see these same “faces,” too. Check out how the company’s program, Google Faces, is searching satellite images for the human face by reading more here.

Follow The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Twitter (@TCMIndy) for more trending news and other fun facts, as well as updates from the world’s largest children’s museum.

Reflections on Heroism at the Anne Frank Sapling Planting

Rabbi Brett KrichiverDuring the Anne Frank sapling planting ceremony this April, we had the opportunity to hear Rabbi Brett Krichiver share his remarks on the significance of the tree to the Jewish community, and beyond. This blog post combines his spoken remarks at the ceremony with his reflections on heroism that followed.
 
On April 14th our community planted a sapling cut from the Horse Chestnut tree outside the annex where the Franks hid for two years.  Indianapolis is one of seven locations worldwide that was chosen to receive a cutting from the tree, a great honor for our community.   But what struck me most about this event, and the tree itself, was something visible just outside the news camera frame.  You see, I offered a blessing – the traditional blessing for planting a tree – which says, “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, who renews the work of creation in every moment,” while thinking about how heavily I feel the responsibility of communicating with future generations about the Franks and their story.  With each passing moment, the world is created anew and we move farther and farther away from history’s lessons.  As Edmund Burke wrote in the 1700’s, “Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.”
 
Trees have a particular significance in the Jewish tradition. In Proverbs we read that our Torah is a Tree of Life to those that hold tight to it and everyone who upholds it is happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace (after Proverbs 3:17-18).
 
It takes seventy years for a tree to bear its full fruit, according to the ancient texts.  This symbolism is not lost on us today, especially as we consider the lessons learned almost seventy years since the death of Anne Frank.  We consider the thoughts she had while peering out the window of her hiding place, when she wrote:
 
“I want to go on living even after my death!”
— Anne Frank (Wednesday, April 5th, 1944)
 
The Museum [was then] highlighting another exhibit about Superheroes, showcasing Batman’s and Superman’s capes and costumes. There were collectors’ comic books and even a chance for children to try on capes and headbands and something akin to Wonder Woman’s bullet-proof “Bracelets of Victory.”
 
Anne Frank Sapling Tree Planting
Notice in the photo below, the way in which Anne Frank’s tree, standing out against the backdrop of her words, also seems to be framed by a large display reminding us about these action figure ideologues.  And I’m sure you can guess where my blessing led me. What better way to celebrate the contribution of Anne’s diary to our collective wisdom about the nature of oppression and bigotry, and especially anti-Semitism, than to focus on her very real heroism.
 
Remember that it was two Jewish kids from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who originally created Superman. He was the ultimate tool for fighting Nazism and the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Their original hero destroyed Nazi armor, Japanese submarines and anything else that was thrown at the Allies. I highly recommend the fictional retelling of this story by Michael Chabon in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001.
 
The most important part of our retelling of history is to focus on the strength of the Jews who suffered. Clearly Anne Frank is a real hero of the Shoah, the Holocaust.  Even though she perished, she brought her ideals to life in every moment, and on every page of her writing. At our ceremony, an actor playing Otto Frank, Anne’s father, picked up on one quote from her diary I had shared – that she hoped her writing would allow her to live on after her death – a true heroic wish, and one that we can help fulfill by sharing her story, and her tree with others.
 

 

The Story Behind Sidney the Seahorse

Sidney the SeahorseHere's the story behind Sidney the Seahorse, one of the many funky finds from the Children's Museum collection!
By Jennifer Noffze, Museum Registrar/Archivist
 
Did you know that the Museum’s first official mascot was a seahorse?  Kurt Vonnegut, Sr., father of acclaimed author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was one of the first Trustees of The Children’s Museum.  Kurt was an architect and his interest in art led him to design the seahorse, which served as the Museum’s first logo and later the mascot.  A wooden seahorse sign hung above the Museum’s first home, the Propylaeum Carriage House, located at 14th and Delaware streets.  
 
Why a seahorse?  Well, Mr. Vonnegut was in charge of establishing a program of junior memberships and the Museum’s Board thought that membership buttons would be a fun way to attract children to the Museum.   One theory as to why Mr. Vonnegut chose a seahorse for the button is that the unusual creature might pique children’s interest and make them curious about the museum.
 
Sidney the Seahorse ended up representing the museum for 50 years!  In those days the museum was free, and for part of that time this donation box sat out so visitors could make donations to support the museum and its mission.  Coins would run down Sidney’s nose and ring a bell as they fell into the box.
 
 
Sidney Button
Sidney the Seahorse head

 

Images cc by-sa 3.0 The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Exploring the Museum for "Larry Gets Lost"

Earlier this year we announced that the latest Children's Museum Guild children's book will be Larry Gets Lost at the Museum by author John Skewes!  Larry Gets Lost is a series that takes Larry, an adorable puppy, on adventures in cities and places around the US...and The Children's Museum is his next stop! This is the second guest blog post from author John Skewes as he takes his own journey in the creation of the book. Follow along as we get closer to the book's completion in late August!
 
Read Part 1 and Part 3 of this series.
 
The first part of writing a book is research. It’s my favorite part because I get to learn new and interesting things. But it’s especially fun when I’m researching The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
 
I only had a few days for my first round of research (the Museum Guild asked that I get there before the end of October to see the famous Haunted House) so I photographed everything I saw. I got to explore, look behind the scenes, ask questions, and even go through the vast Collections Storage.
 
Here’s a rare view from above the Chihuly tower Fireworks of Glass, up by the skylight. This was really behind the scenes!
chihuly

For the Reuben Wells (a real steam engine that had to be placed in the museum before it was built), I wanted to diagram the whole process of steam locomotion. This meant that I needed to get inside the engine to take photos and have one of the museum staff explain what each of the parts did, including the brass pressure relief valve and pressure gauge (pictured below.)

reuben 1 reuben 2

The staff members at the museum are amazing. I was chatting with a young woman in Treasures of the Earth who had a puppet on her hand. It turned out, despite appearances, she was a real archeologist with expertise in Ancient Greece. You never know who you’re talking to. Be sure to ask.
 
The man who ran the museum's carousel told me all about their working Wurlitzer organ. (The carousel had to be put in the museum before the roof was put on.) A Wurlitzer operates from pressurized air being pushed through holes in a roll of paper. Most carousels use a digital recording of a Wurlitzer. Not the Children’s Museum!
 
carousel 1
carousel 2
 
Collections is where the museum stores everything that’s not on display. It’s an amazing place. You thought Dinosphere was impressive? Here are the spare parts. You never know what you’ll find stored in here.
 
collections dinos
collections 2
 
The museum has so many amazing things they don't have room for them all! Look at this beautiful painting of Indianapolis I found in a small administrative hallway. It was painted in 1954 by Garo Antreasian (b. 1922) for the lobby of WRTV Channel 6. Mr. Antreasian sounds pretty interesting himself, serving as a combat artist in World War II. Does anyone know him?

painting
 

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the only museum with its own public library branch, called InfoZone. Here’s the Larry Gets Lost section in the library. If Larry Gets Lost at the Museum is ever going to get on this shelf I’d better get back to work.

larry shelf
 
 
 
 

Ned's Excellent China Adventure: Part 1

 

Pandas and nedCreative Director Ned Shaw loves to share stories about his adventures, and China is no exception! This is the first in a series of posts where staff share the incredible details from their trips to China—all in preparation for the museum's transformation into an immersive Chinese experience in May 2014. 
 
Ah China! The land of ancient traditions and a marvel of modern development. 
 
Pandas and pagodas. Buddhist monks and rock star punks. Mini vans and mini skirts. Fast mopeds and fried fish heads. Surprising foods and miles and miles of roads (not to mention millions of cars). 
 
China is being transformed daily, racing to bring to bear the increasingly entrepreneurial population to solve its formidable challenges. The world is watching this transformation, and so is The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
 
The museum has sent several groups of staff, board members, and donors over the years to see for ourselves how China is changing itself, and the world, forever. I was fortunate enough to be included in the most recent adventure, and charged with bringing back some of the photographic assets needed to complete next year’s exhibits, Take Me There®: China and Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army. The first is all about modern China, complete with stores, shops, and streets. The second is the story of the vast archaeological discovery of thousands of clay soldiers found guarding an emperor’s tomb. We had to see it up close to bring our visitors the most extraordinary experience possible.
 
great wall
 
As you would expect from an outfit like ours, it was go, go, go from the moment we touched down in China! Beijing was as advertised...huge, sprawling, bustling, congested, smoggy…modern, slick, and shiny one minute, old, moldy, and crumbling the next! 
 

Temple of Heaven

But a quick bus ride took us out of town to the Great Wall, stretching literally as far as the eye can see in both directions, high up on the side of mountains. Pictures don’t really do it justice…we kept asking “How did they get all these rocks up here? We can barely climb the steps! And was this project approved by the Occupational Hazard Oversight Committee of the Emperor?  Because it looks like it was a rather dangerous worksite!”
 
Then off to the Forbidden City (which is an odd name because we strolled right in…I guess it isn’t very forbidden anymore!) It went on forever, giant pagodas that housed thousands of people at one time, all in service to the emperor. Truly amazing architecture. Those of us who are fans of the old Chinese action movies, especially the historical ones with lots of yelling, sword fights, torchlit chases and sneaky guys all in black prowling the rooftops, have seen many scenes shot in this complex of palaces. It was really astounding to be there in person! You could almost hear the giant gong announcing the approach of the emperor! Quick! On your knees, head on the pavement!
 
Then onward… the hits kept coming! The circular tower called the Temple of Heaven, every inch carved and painted, 6 stories tall! Awesome! The Summer Palace of the Emperor, with giant gates of carved wood, long walkways with painted murals on the beams and ceiling, even a huge stone boat commissioned by the only female empress of China. Yes, I said stone boat. I believe she was sending a message to her people…no more long sea voyages! Such are the wondrous riddles of the city of Beijing.
 

chinese fast food

We had a great dinner at the Summer Palace with the chief restorer of Chinese architecture, who told us that he was having difficulty finding enough talented artists to assist him in his mission to preserve the old buildings and temples. Seems that the younger generation is more interested in designing, and playing, video games…hmmm…sound familiar?
 
We just could not get enough Chinese food, history, sights, and sounds. Every where we looked was a feast for the eyes…if not the nose!
 
…more in my next installment: towering cliffs with giant carved Buddhas, turtle soup with a side of silkworms, and more!
 
Learn more about the upcoming exhibit in the blog post Why Take Me There®: China? and follow our exhibit development progress on the China 2014 webpage.
 
(Third Photo: Staff visit the Temple of Heaven. From left to right: Chris Carron, Director of Collections, Ned Shaw, Creative Director, David Donaldson, Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Jeff Patchen, President and CEO.)
 

The Story Behind the Porcupinefish

porcupine fishHere's the story behind the Porcupinefish, one of the many funky finds from the Children's Museum collection!
By Jennifer Noffze, Museum Archivist

This strange looking creature is a porcupinefish. It gets its name from the many sharp barbs that cover its body. When this fish feels threatened, it gulps in water and inflates in size, causing all those barbs to stick straight out. That makes it a very unappetizing meal for the bigger, hungrier fish. 
 
This little fish was the very first item in The Children's Museum of Indianapolis' collection! It was donated to the museum back in 1925 by an Indianapolis Public School student.  It is very special to us that IPS students helped to build our wonderful collection.  When the call went out to IPS students in 1925 for artifact donations, we received hundreds of unique and fascinating objects! 
 
Even though the porcupinefish’s accession number is 28, we know that it was first the object donated to the museum and it was given the number 28 when the objects were cataloged at a later date.
 
In the Mini Masterpieces exhibit, there is a miniature representation of the Museum’s first home, the Propylaeum Carriage House, which is still located at 14th and Delaware streets. You'llll notice that the porcupinefish is featured on the display case!
 
minimasterpiece
 
You can also try to spot the miniature replica porcupinefish in This Week's WOW: Mini Masterpieces. (But it's pretty hidden!)
 

Why Take Me There®: China?

operaIn May 2014, the Take Me There® gallery will transform into an immersive experience that will transport families to modern-day China! But, why China? Charity Counts, the museum's Associate Vice President of Exhibits, explains why.

Why explore China at the world’s largest children’s museum? Quite simply—the time is right! Not only is China the most populous country; but, it is also the fastest growing industrial nation in the world and finds itself in the headlines of just about every national news service daily.

But to truly understand how it fits into The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, you need to go back a few years. In 2009, the museum opened its largest permanent international experience, Take Me There®, which focuses on a single contemporary culture outside of the United States and changes cultural focus every three to four years.  

The museum’s goal for the Take Me There®  gallery is to foster awareness, understanding, and respect for other cultures. That is done through immersive environments based on real places, featuring real families with children in those countries, and through in-depth, participatory programs.

When selecting countries to feature in this changing space, The Children’s Museum explores interests of local families and then evaluates the existing community, national and international connections.

Egypt The museum first opened with Egypt, a country that many children are curious about due to its fascinating history (and of course mummies!). Museum leaders felt it was important to share what life is like for families in contemporary Egypt in order to balance what kids already knew about its history. The experience was made possible thanks to strategic collaborations with Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt at the time, as well as Dr. Zahi Hawass, Chair, Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Egypt Air.

From the day that Egypt opened, the museum staff began to explore options for the next featured country and China quickly rose to the top. Its history spans thousands of years and its brilliant past is matched only by its rapid development in the present. China has the largest population in the world and its economic relationships span the globe.  

As we look at our community, we recognize that many of our friends, neighbors, and work associates are Chinese. There are thousands of American citizens who were adopted from China and want to connect with their native heritage. Our city has a sister city relationship with Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. We at The Children’s Museum have been forging relationships with many individuals and organizations in China for years. One of our Dinosphere expert advisors is from China–Dong Zhiming, one of China’s leading paleontologists. In the coming weeks, we will share some of the other global partnerships that are making this exhibit an authentic reality.

Our staff members have had so much fun getting to know China through exhibit projects and are compelled to share its people and its wonderful, rich culture with families coming to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Throughout the year, follow along on the China 2014 webpage as we prepare for Take Me There®: China! 
Be on the lookout for blog, photo, and video updates on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!



 

The Geckos Are Leaving on a Jet Plane

 

geckofarewellThe Geckos exhibit will close May 15, and our lizard friends are heading home in style! In this blog post, animal keeper Anna Simpson from Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland tells us all about the geckos' journey. Anna has been in Indianapolis caring for the geckos while they've been at the museum.
 
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao-tzu
 
However when you're a gecko a single step is very, very small. So how do our geckos get from the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis back to Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in central Pennsylvania?
 
Each gecko will be carefully caught using nets or special cups. With the tiny (and VERY fast) jewel day geckos this can be very tricky, but species like our laid-back crested geckos can be picked up by hand. Species like our giant day geckos could drop their tails if handled incorrectly, so I have to be very gentle when I capture them. Other geckos, like our Tokay geckos, have an extremely powerful bite. I will have to watch my fingers! There are 70 geckos living at the museum right now, so catching all of them could take quite a while. 
 
The geckos are then placed into appropriately sized containers. Each container has air holes and a damp paper towel to keep the geckos comfortably humid. All of these containers will be put into a large insulated case that will keep their temperature stable as they travel.
 
While the exhibits and equipment can be transported by truck, for the health and safety of our animals we prefer to send them in style… by airplane! By flying our animals, we minimize stress and get them to their destination as quickly as possible. Mr. Clyde Peeling will be piloting the private plane that will get these well-traveled reptiles back home. Compared to the 17 foot pythons, 4 foot monitor lizards, and venomous snakes he is used to transporting, flying these geckos will be a breeze! Back in Pennsylvania, enclosures will be set up and waiting for the geckos to arrive. 
 
We know you will miss having the geckos in Indianapolis, but just because they will be leaving doesn’t mean you cannot learn more about geckos and their relatives. Local libraries, zoos and wildlife centers are great places to learn about many fascinating reptiles. And of course, if you are ever in Pennsylvania you can stop by and say “Hi” to all the geckos at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland!
 
In This Week's WOW, learn more about the baby geckos that hatched at the museum and hear a special farewell song from Josh and Claire:
 
 
Geckos: Tails to Toepads was created by Peeling Productions at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland.