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Haunted House

Hollywood Haunts—Taking Off the Mask

Ned Chris blog mashupHalloween may be over, but did you know you can still experience Hollywood Haunts through November 24? There are so many awesomely spooktacular artifacts to show you, we didn’t want to put them away just yet! In this post, Director of Collections Chris Carron explains why these artifacts aren’t so scary after all. But don’t miss the annotations from Creative Director Ned Shaw—he won’t let Chris get away with revealing the mystery behind Hollywood Haunts!
When the Children’s Museum Guild started planning for its fiftieth haunted house, museum staff decided to plan a special exhibit in honor of the anniversary.  But instead of creating more dark environments with characters to startle you, we chose to present a fun and lighthearted peek behind the scenes at some of our favorite spooky movies.(1) Hollywood Haunts is filled with the actual costumes and props that were used on-screen during the filming of famous TV shows and action films. Visitors can learn how movie designers use props to tell stories, and even gain inspiration to design their own silly monsters. 
From a safe vantage point on the other side of the glass,(2) we see that the costumes and props are imaginative but make-believe, so we don’t really need to be terrified.(3) Take the mischievous hitchhiking ghosts from the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. They were shipped to the Museum in a large crate as a loan from a collector in California.(4)
The iconic monkey head from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom may seem gory, but it’s really just a plastic prop that is a part of The Children’s Museum’s collection. The bright red brains inside the skull were actually “cooked up” by our Collections Preparator, Nick Schanz!(5) (Believe it or not, Nick details his process in this blog post!)
George the Spider from Sammy Terry’s Nightmare Theater TV show and specials hangs from the ceiling on a thin piece of fishing line.(6) (See George in action in this video from his visit to the museum.) The invading aliens from Mars Attacks! are revealed to be puppets,(7) and the moody scenery from The Nightmare Before Christmas was cut with a jigsaw from plywood. 
Full-sized reproductions of Alien and Predator might be too menacing for some, so they’re secured behind shades, out of the sight of small children’s eyes.(8) So come see Hollywood Haunts during regular museum hours and learn how the magic is made. Don’t be frightened—be inspired!(9)
(1)  That is, if you find skulls and mummies fun and lighthearted, like Chris does!
(2)  Sure…the visitors just think they’re safe…
(3)  We don’t need to be terrified…we WANT to be terrified!
(4)  They wanted to hitchhike, but they probably wouldn't have gotten very far. 
(5) I bet that wasn’t in his job description!
(6) And he writes all of his own dialog!
(7) Perhaps…or maybe they are REAL aliens, waiting for us to get our guards down, and then WHAM!
(8) So you know that’s the FIRST place your little daredevils will go!
(9) Okay, and just a leetle bit frightened!
Addams Family Hollywood Haunts Haunted Mansion ghosts
Mummy Hollywood Haunts Sammy Terry Hollywood Haunts


Saturday Science: Erupting Pumpkin

Erupting Pumpkin Saturday Science The Children's Museum of IndianapolisHalloween is over, and now you're left with a two-day-old jack-o-lantern on your porch. Why not turn it into a science experiment?? Today's Saturday Science, courtesy of the blog "Growing a Jeweled Rose," just gushes with fun!


  • Carved pumpkin
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring


  1. Fill your pumpkins with a bit baking soda (about 4 tablespoons per pumpkin.)
  2. Add a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Add vinegar...and the eruptions begin!


What appears to be one reaction is actually two, happening in quick succession. This reaction is an example of a multi-step reaction. The acetic acid (that's what makes vinegar sour) reacts with sodium bicarbonate (a compound that's in baking soda) to form carbonic acid.
Carbonic acid is unstable, and it immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide and water. The bubbles you see from the reaction come from the carbon dioxide escaping the solution that is left. Carbon dioxide is heavier than air, so it flows almost like water when it overflows the container. It's a gas that you exhale (though in small amounts), because it's a product of the reactions that keep your body going.
What's left is a dilute solution of sodium acetate in water.
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

How to Sculpt Fake Monkey Brains à la Indiana Jones

Monkey Brains 1

In this post, Nick Schanz, the museum's Collections Preparator, tells us how he recreated fake monkey brains that were true to Hollywood! Just another day at the office...
Sometimes we use artifacts that not only need a way to be displayed safely in a case, but also an added detail that helps tell the story of the artifact being used. We recently installed Hollywood Haunts with artifacts on display from scary and not so scary movies that we all like to watch around Halloween. One artifact you can see on display in Hollywood Haunts is the monkey head prop used in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Do you remember the scene when Indy goes to meet the Maharaja at his palace and they proceed to have a dinner of baby snakes, beetles, eyeball soup and for dessert—chilled monkey brains? (Gross!) Originally for this scene real food was used to imitate the monkey brains. Because this would be on display, we definitely couldn’t use food. So instead we used modeling paper clay that is archival. This means that it's acid free and won't react in any way with the artifact that might be harmful. An extra barrier of plastic is used so we can get the correct size needed to fit the skull properly.
After the monkey brains were sculpted, we allowed them to air dry for several days. Next we primed the brains with a base coat so we could paint the brains with acrylic paints.
After we applied several coats of paint, the final step was to apply a final coat of gloss medium to make them look like they were in the movie.
The final display of the monkey brains is now able to be seen in Hollywood Haunts, which runs through November 24! 
Monkey Brains 1 Monkey Brains 3 Monkey Brains Indiana Jones Temple of Doom



DIY Halloween T-Shirt Haute Couture

DIY Halloween Children's Museum Guild T-SHirt

Because the witches of The Children’s Museum Guild celebrate Halloween all year long, in 2008 guild witch Sarah Adams came up with an idea to make hip, trendy Halloween shirts that Guild fashionistas could wear all year. These custom-made, Halloween appliqué t-shirts have become a Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House wardrobe staple and now Sarah is going to share her secrets to making this adorable addition to your wardrobe.

Start with the basic Halloween symbols like a pumpkin, ghost, bat or skull and crossbones. Images can be found on-line, in kids coloring books or, if you are super crafty, draw something yourself. Look for what’s trending—like vampires or zombies—to be “in the now." For the guild witches, this could mean getting some inspiration from the current year's Haunted House theme!
You'll need a T-shirt. A basic cotton, crew neck t-shirt works great. Sarah finds great t-shirts at Target. Next you need appliqué paper with a sticky back, available at your local craft store. While at the craft store, buy black, orange, white, green, or purple fabric in a variety of textures and designs and pick up some embroidery floss. Lastly, you need a sewing machine.
  1. Make an appliqué design. For a unique look with more visual interest, make layers to the appliqué using different fabrics to give it more edge.
  2. Trace appliqué onto appliqué paper and cut out.
  3. Remove the backing and iron traced appliqué onto the shirt—this will hold the design in place as you sew.
  4. Sew on the appliqué using a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch.
  5. Add detail stitching with embroidery floss.
  6. Done!
Quotes also make fun appliqués. Sarah has used “witchy woman,” “good witch” (front) “bad witch” (back), and other quotes that show off personality!
Sarah’s Advice: “Keep it trendy and funky and you will always be in style!”

50 Years Of Fear at The Children's Museum Guild's Haunted House

Established in 1964, The Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House is the museum's largest annual fundraiser. Since its inception, the Haunted House has raised more than $8.5 million. The Haunted House is conceived, planned, built, operated, and presented by The Children’s Museum Guild, and is visited by more than 58,000 people each year. This infographic shares highlights from the past "50 Years of Fear." Learn even more on the Haunted House History site

Haunted House 50 Years Infographic Children's Museum Indianapolis

What Makes XTREME SCREAM Extreme?

Xtreme Scream Haunted HouseThis year the Haunted House is better than EVER with three scare levels to choose from—and in 3-D! But what makes Xtreme Scream so extreme? The Children's Museum Guild's witches tell us what to expect...

Do you consider yourself a thrill seeker?  Are you the type of person that likes to take things to the extreme?  If you answered “yes” then this year’s Haunted House has an experience you won’t want to miss…XTREME SCREAM Fridays!  New this year, late night Fridays will take terror to the next level at The Children’s Museum Haunted House as late-night visitors go on a psychological thrill ride you won't forget.  
Williams Comfort Air's XTREME SCREAM is geared to ages 15 and older and will have you running to your mommy for comfort! The haunt takes guests on a horrible tour back in time to explore the life of Dr. Timestein, a demented scientist with an ax to grind. XTREME SCREAM incorporates all five senses, resulting in sensory overload as you follow Dr. Timestein’s story through five decades of an extreme psychological experience. Unlike the “startle scare” of frightening hours, this experience is a choreographed “show” that manipulates visitors and turns them into Dr. Timestein’s specimens. Be aware that extreme props, costumes and make-up will be used to bring the story to life. A “safe sign” will be given to visitors in the event they are unable to make it through the experience.
Mark your calendars for Fridays October 11, 18 and 25 as we go to the XTREME to give you the scariest haunt experience in town.  This late-night event is from 9 – 11 p.m...or when the last survivor makes it out alive! Tickets are $12 at the box office or online, and your XTREME SCREAM ticket will also include the Hollywood Haunts experience within the museum. Remember, this experience is recommended for teens and adults, and only the bravest of visitors!  Come if you dare….


Learn about all of the scare levels with the help of this blog post and this Infographic.

10 Halloween Costumes You Can Make at Home

BHBcostumeHalloween is a great time of year to put your DIY skills to the test! Get inspiration from the experts—The Children’s Museum Guild Witches—with these 10 tips for costumes you can make at home! Once you have a costume ready, be sure to enter the Time Warp Costume Contest now through October 31!

1. Ugly, Black Spider: A simple black hoodie can easily turn into a spider with buttons and yellow felt for eyes and stuff black pantyhose for legs
2.  Smartie Pants: Glue smarties candy to sweat pants.
3. Bag of Trash:  Fill a trash bag with paper, poke legs and arms through the bag, draw a twist tie on poster board, cut it out and staple it around the top of the bag to look like it goes around the neck. Take care to make sure it cannot tighten around the neck for safety reasons. 
4. Crazy Scientist:  Buy a white lab coat (available at your local uniform store) and put spider, or any kind of embellishment, on the cut with glue.  Add a pocket protector with worms coming out and some crazy hair from your local party store.
5. Corn dog: Wrap burlap around your body, cut a hole for your face.  Take the inside tube of a wrapping paper role to use for the stick.  Staple it so that it sticks out over your head.
6. Tub of Popcorn: Take two tri-fold presentation boards and tape them with red duct tape to make a square.  You will also use this duct tape to make the stripes on the outside of the tub. Take two PVC pipes, cut to the lengths of the 2 sides, and tape them along the right and left hand sides of the boards.  Take and old t shirt and glue it to the inside top of the square--this will allow you to "wear the tub".  Create popped popcorn with pieces of cotton batting that have been spray painted yellow and hot glued to top of t shirt.
7. Grease Pink Ladies: Pink cardigan sweater or zip up sweat shirt, black pants/leggings, black t shirt.  You can pair this with a colorful wig and scarf.
8. Gnome: To make the hat, roll a piece of red velvet or felt into a triangular shaped hat.  Spray paint your hair white.  For the outfit, you will need brown pants, a vest and white shirt
9. Puppies in a Box: Turn a box upside down and cut out leg holes.  Return box upright and fill the box half way with waded up newspapers as filler.  Place various puppy stuffed animals are the top.  Can hang the box over the shoulder with suspenders
10. Bumble Bee: All black clothing.  Use yellow duct tape to make the stripes on the back.  Take a dark colored head band and black pipe cleaners to make antennas.
SAFETY FIRST!  Always be mindful of potential choking hazards and that costume elements don’t constrict the range of motion. Please make sure all costumes have a clear field of vision so your trick-or-treater stays safe and incorporate bright colors or glow in the dark paint to make them more visible after the sun goes down.

“It’s time for… Sammy Terry!”

Sammy TerryBy: Cathy Hamaker, Exhibit Developer

If you grew up in the Indianapolis area in the 1970’s, like I did, then Sammy Terry needs no introduction.  This ghoulish character was the regular host of WTTV’s Friday night monster movies for decades; he would rise from his dungeon coffin each week, introduce the films, and engage in entertaining banter that often referenced local news, politics, and sports.  While Sammy’s regular appearances on Channel 4 ended in the late 1980’s, he is still a beloved icon for generations of Hoosier horror fans!

Sammy was originally played by Robert Carter, a veteran of WTTV’s various talk shows.  He developed the Sammy character himself in 1962, when the station purchased a package of classic monster films to show on Friday nights and needed someone to do the live “intros” and “outros.” Sammy Terry (a pun on “cemetery”—get it?) was a caped ghoul who slept in a coffin and lived in a dungeon, chatting with his friends George (a rubber spider,) Skully (a disembodied skull,) and other characters who appeared over the decades.  While Robert Carter passed away in the summer of 2013, his son Mark has carried on the legacy of Sammy—he’s been playing the character in public appearances and TV specials since 2010.

So you can imagine that we here at The Children’s Museum were pretty thrilled at the opportunity to work with Mark Carter for our new Halloween experience, “Hollywood Haunts,” open at the museum from Oct. 5–Nov. 24.  Mark has generously loaned us a number of original Sammy Terry props and set pieces, including Sammy’s coffin (!) and George the Spider (!!!)  If you’re a longtime fan, this is something you won’t want to miss—and if you’re new to town, it’s a great way to get to know a legend of Hoosier television history.  But Sammy’s not the only thing to see in Hollywood Haunts—this little exhibit is jam-packed with real movie props and costumes from films like The Addams Family, The Mummy, and Corpse Bride.  Stop by and see it—and have, as Sammy would say, “Pleasant Nightmares!”

Your Guide to the Friendly Feasts with the Witches

FeastWitches1The Friendly Feasts with the Witches are a Haunted House tradition! Learn what you can expect from these special events from the guy who knows best—Scott Rudicel of Ruditoonz. 
October is almost here, and the Haunted House at the Children’s Museum is ready to rock! I've had the honor the last 5 years to host the “Friendly Feasts.” These events are a breakfast, lunch or dinner with a gaggle of friendly witches that are hosted by me, Ruditoonz. They are geared toward the younger crowd (ages 0–10 or so), last about 90 minutes total, and consist of a feast, singing and dancing, and a special 20-minute Ruditoonz Halloween-themed concert in Lilly Theater. 


For the feasts themselves, I love running around and meeting the kids, telling jokes and making them laugh while they eat. Fazoli’s provides worms with ground werewolf (spaghetti with meat sauce), breadsticks (mummy fingers) and salads (with lettuce grown by the witches themselves).  The breakfast is usually scrambled brains (eggs) and werewolf sausage and bacon with coffee (bat juice). Mmmmmmmmm. Getting hungry yet?
All the while, Halloween music is playing overhead. As I do with Ruditoonz, I choose this music carefully for not only the kids, but the moms and dads, too. We have “Witch Doctor” followed by Alice Cooper “Welcome to my Nightmare”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and of course, the “Monster Mash.” Frances the friendly witch is usually around to help teach the kids her best witchy dance moves.  We have a lot of fun!
Just ahead of the crowd, I run down to the theater and plug in for the concert. Each year, I mix up the songs I play to keep it fresh for both the returning guests and me. Also, every year I write a new song using the year’s theme as the title. This year is “Time Warp,” marking the 50th anniversary of the Guild’s haunted house at the museum! I wrote a great song, kitschy like the Rocky Horror “Time Warp” yet entirely original and rocking, name checking both past haunted house themes and rooms in the current haunted house. Watch below or have a listen now—it rocks!
Following my show, everyone gets to go through the Haunted House with the lights on. They say this is less scary for the youngsters, but as someone who has gone through the houses many times both with lights on and off, I actually prefer lights on! You can see the incredible attention put in to every detail in all the rooms!
Cheers to 50 years! I’m honored to be a part of it!
See all of the Friendly Feasts dates and reserve your tickets here!

Cheers to 50 Years at the Black Hat Bash

BHBlogoThe Children's Museum Guild's Haunted House has been a family tradition for decades—50 years, in fact! And this year is more special than ever as we celebrate the 50th anniversary in grand, no—fa-BOO-lous—style at the second annual Black Hat Bash
The Black Hat Bash is a special one-night event that celebrates the oldest continually operating haunted house in the nation!  It's not only the biggest and best family Halloween party in town—it's also the public’s first look at this year's Haunted House Time Warp: 50 Years of Fear. So if your family is counting down the days to the Haunted House, this is the party for you—you can experience Time Warp a whole five days early! It's an all-ages affair that promises to be frightfully fun!
The Black Hat Bash is Saturday night, October 5th  from 6-9:30 p.m. and is complete with food stations from area restaurants, spellbinding spirits, and beautifully batty beverages. You'll experience Halloween hilarity throughout the museum, dancing to tunes played by a devilish DJ, taking part in a crazy costume runway show, and playing in DreamAuthentics "Dreadful" arcade with ghostly games and activities. And, don't forget that every attendee receives a ticket to the Haunted House which can be used during the event or once during any Haunted House hours between Oct. 10–31. 


Want to hear the best part? Proceeds from the Black Hat Bash are part of the larger Haunted House fundraising effort led by The Children’s Museum Guild each year. The Guild has raised more than $8.5 million since it began in 1964, supporting museum initiatives such as the Foster Family programs, Access Pass, and Neighborhood programs.
This is certainly one night at the museum that you don’t want to miss! So get your costumes ready and start counting down the days to this un-BOO-lievable kickoff to the 50th Anniversary Haunted House. You'll want to purchase tickets in advance as Black Hat Bash is likely to sellout quickly! Advance tickets are $5 off, and new this year—you can reserve a VIP table for 10 of your family and friends! See all of the ticket options and reserve yours online or by calling 317-334-4000. We'll see you there!


Choose Your Haunted House Experience!

Choose your scare experience in The Children’s Museum Guild’s 50th Anniversary Haunted House Time Warp—50 Years of Fear, opening October 10!

  • Learn more about the difference between Lights-On, Frightening, and XTREME SCREAM hours in this blog post.
  • See ticket options.
  • Times for all experiences can be found on the Haunted House calendar

HH Experiences

The Haunted House Celebrates Fifty Years of Fear!


For the last fifty years, the Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House has entertained families across the United States with a combination of clever artistry and scary touches that bring visitors back year after year. It's always amazing to see the Guild's 100 volunteers bring Halloween to life in a unique way.  Over the last 50 years visitors have been “trick or treated” to such unusual haunt experiences as houses, camps, hotels, towns and villages, outer space, castles and the sea.  
In 2013, to celebrate its milestone 50th birthday, the Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House will take visitors through five “deadcades” of music, movies, television, and history through a trip in a terrifying Time Warp! Haunted House visitors will explore 50 years of fear as Ghoulish Guide Dr. Timestein guides visitors through decades of petrifying pop culture. Watch a haunted history unfold in front of your eyes as you explore iconic events like the lunar landing, disco, arcades, MTV, coffee houses and the birth of the Internet through a haunted lens.
Turning fifty no longer means old—it means BETTER!  This year some of the most iconic brands in the United States turn 50.  Michael Jordan, Porsche 911 and Crate and Barrel are a few such icons that are getting better with age. This certainly holds true for the Children’s Museum Guild’s iconic Haunted House—its 50th anniversary makes it the longest-running Haunted House in the United States. 
As the Children’s Museum Guild prepares to usher in a new era of haunting, we want to hear from you.  Are you one of the 2.5 million people who have visited the Haunted House over the last five decades? What is your favorite memory of the Children’s Museum Guild Haunted House?  Share your story and help the Guild celebrate 50 years of spooky success!