There are many reasons why we call The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
“Our Favorite Place on Earth”. Every Special Exhibit seems to have aligned perfectly with what our children were interested in at that time in their lives. Even the mainstays, such as the Carousel
remain interesting visit after visit.
When our boy-girl twins arrived to start our family in 2005, we began driving from our home in Clayton, IN to splash and play at Playscape
once a month. When they had fallen in love with Sesame Street, the Children’s Musuem opened the “Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?” exhibit. The “Bob the Builder- Project Build It” was open at the same time and resulted in a Bob the Builder themed birthday party that year.
We relocated to southwestern Indiana in 2007, about a 2 hours drive away from the Children’s Museum. My parent’s (Nana and Pappy) became members
of the museum at that time so we could begin to visit the museum together when we came into town. We were only able to visit every 2-3 months, but we always made a point to search the website for upcoming exhibits to plan our visits.
At age 2 and into the preschool years, the twins loved everything on PBS, so we brought along some friends to enjoy the “Adventures with Clifford the Big Red Dog” exhibit and were able to meet Curious George face-to-face.
When they turned 4, their interests began to become a little more gender-specific. The Children’s Museum answered perfectly, opening exhibits for LEGO Castle Adventures, and “Comic Book Heroes”, where my son was able see his new favorite mode-of-transportation; the Batmobile. For my daughter, we had to visit “Barbie The Fashion Experience
” shortly after opening so she could marvel at all of the dolls and bask in being surrounded by her favorite color; pink.
In 2009, we welcomed one more addition to our family – a baby girl. Naturally, she began accompanying us on our museum trips, just in time for the museum to bring back the “Bob The Builder – Project Build It Exhibit”. It was surreal to watch as my now “big kids” showed their new sister around a similar exhibit in which they had just discovered themselves a few short years ago.
Shortly after turning 1 year old, our new daughter discovered Dora the Explorer. Her vocabulary began to consist of Dora characters like Dora, Boots, Map and Backpack. Her room and toy box began to become populated with Dora books and toys. To my amazement, the Children’s Museum answered again, opening “Dora & Diego Let’s Explore
”. This time we made the trip for opening weekend. I’ll always remember the walk across the new walkway from the parking garage to the museum. At every posted sign with a Dora character, she would point and say “Dor-da” (her pronunciation of Dora). As we walked into the museum and she saw the huge Dora banner, signs and employee buttons, her smile began to spread as big as I have ever seen it. Her eyes truly sparkled as she looked around in wonder. Walking through the exhibit with our friends again, it was Heaven on Earth for this Dora-loving little girl.
With all of the memories we have built visiting the Special Exhibits, it still does not compare to the impact that Dinosphere
has had on my son. He was 2 years old when we first visited the exhibit and was immediately hooked. Thus began his quest for knowledge about all things DINOSAUR. We began reading books about dinosaurs, watching BBC videos about “Prehistoric Planet” and every wrapped holiday and birthday gift since has contained a different dinosaur toy. It was always fascinating to friends and family that he could identify and pronounce the different dinosaur names and recite facts about them at such a young age. And after reading every dinosaur book at the local library (often more than once), the local librarian began holding new books with any dinosaur content aside for him to check-out on our weekly visit. At the beginning of kindergarten, the local paper asked each student what they wanted to be when they grew up. As most children answered that they wished to be a policeman or coal miner, my son replied as he has since asked initially at age 3: “I want to be a Paleontologist.”
Now 5 memberships
later, we have been able to experience lots of what the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has to offer. We are thrilled to catch an occasional show at the Planetarium
or Lilly Theatre
, but we have settled into somewhat of a routine: Special Exhibit first, followed by the Carousel, the food court for lunch and saving our favorite for last, Dinosphere. We have to wait until we hear the “rain” and the children love to quickly find cover in the caves.
I heard a line in a movie recently referring to parenthood that stated, “you will never get used to Children’s Museums”. Although I can appreciate the humor, I couldn’t disagree more. Some of my favorite times have been watching my children explore and discover new things at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
. We love to continue the learning long after our visit. A lot of times, this results in mom and dad learning something new as well. For the simple fact that my children opt to visit the Children’s Museum over any other choice of zoo, playground or amusement park, it truly is “Our Favorite Place on Earth”.
Name: Jamie Dugan