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5 Highlights from 2021 at The Children’s Museum

The Water Clock has struck noon midnight and 2022 is here!

As we set our sights on the promises of a new year, we'd like to take a look back at some of the highlights from 2021. While the past year presented a few challenges and some uncertainty, there were also some bright spots along the way. We hope you’ll join in celebrating a few of the highlights from 2021.

1. Jennifer Pace Robinson became our new President and CEO

Jennifer Pace Robinson is no stranger to The Children’s Museum. She’s been part of our museum family for decades. When the time came in May for someone new to step in and take the reins of the world’s biggest children’s museum, she was the natural choice.

The Children's Museum President and CEO Jennifer Pace Robinson

A visionary, explorer, and storyteller, Jennifer believes that “the museum is a magical place where all children and families are inspired by and engaged in learning that expands the way they see themselves, the world, and its possibilities.”

“This fulfills a lifelong dream of mine to help make a positive change in the world, one child and one family at a time, by opening their eyes to the world around them. I look forward to continuing working with this amazing group of highly skilled, passionate, and diverse team members to plan for, implement, and operate world-class experiences for all children and families.”

Jennifer Pace Robinson

You can learn more about our new President and CEO’s background and vision by visiting this site.

2. We added a fourth child—Malala Yousafzai—to The Power of Children®

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize. She is known for human rights advocacy, especially the education of women and children in her home of Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. Malala used the Power of Education to fight for human rights. 

Entrance to the Malala Yousafzai gallery in The Power of Children exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

In September, Malala joined Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White as the fourth child to be featured in The Power of Children: Making a Difference®. We are honored to be able to share her powerful story.

3. We partnered with The Eighteen Art Collective to create an important exhibit

In August 2020, 18 local Black artists created a mural along Indiana Avenue in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. We partnered with this group of artists to create an exhibit that highlights their work and shares the community’s reaction to the mural. Stories from Our Community: The Art of Protest opened in August 2021 and will remain open through summer 2023. 

Recreation of #BLACKLIVESMATTER mural in Stories from Our Community: The Art of Protest at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

This powerful exhibit invites families to discover how artists’ creations can evoke empathy and understanding of others’ experiences by communicating stories, messages, and emotions that words alone cannot always express. 

4. We continued to work towards keeping everyone safe

Scientists continued to study COVID-19 and their understanding of the virus continued to improve as more data became available. When you throw in the arrival of new variants like delta and omicron, our world encountered a roller coaster of challenges in 2021. 

Rex wearing a mask while sitting in the IndyCar show car on display at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Throughout the pandemic, we have remained committed to following the science and listening to our committee of health experts and scientific advisors to make informed decisions to help keep our visitors, staff, vendors, and surrounding community safe. From online health panel discussions to partnering with Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health, we have also served as a resource so you can make informed health-related decisions for your family. 

5. We closed Dinosphere®

We know. We know. Dinosphere® has been our most popular exhibit ever since it opened in 2004. WHAT were we thinking? WHY would we close our most popular exhibit for an entire year?

Well, in case you hadn’t heard, something BIG is coming— more fossils and bigger dinosaurs! So we had to make some room. 

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But we aren’t only making room. We’re making the entire exhibit an even more immersive experience than you remember. You’ll be able to stand face-to-ankle with two giant sauropods—humongous four-legged, long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs—that were dug up by our scientists when they explored the Jurassic Mile™ dig site in Wyoming. You’ll have the opportunity to “dive” deep into the ancient waters and discover massive marine monsters with funky features and amazing adaptations. Of course, the Cretaceous creatures you’ve already come to know and love will return. You’ll continue to be able to talk to real-live paleontologists and watch them work on fossils they uncovered in Wyoming. And then you can partner your newly-discovered scientific knowledge with your creativity in the new Dinosphere Art Lab.

Whew!

That’s a lot. We aren’t joking when we say that the new Dinosphere® is going to be huge. That’s why we had to close the exhibit for a year. 

We have a lot in store for 2022

The reopening of Dinosphere® on March 19 is something we’ve looked forward to for over a year. But that’s not the only exciting thing happening in 2022. Check out this list of other exhibits coming to The Children’s Museum in 2022:

Plus:

But, wait! That’s not all!

These exhibits and experiences will also return in 2022:

  • The outdoor areas of the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® reopen March 19 
  • The Children’s Museum Guild’s Haunted House will return in October with a new theme that’s sure to scare your socks off
  • You better watch out. Jolly Days Winter Wonderland will be coming to town again for the winter holidays

And that’s just the beginning. We also have an exciting lineup of new events, engaging experiences with our actor-interpreters, and live shows in 2022. 

Rex wearing a mask and holding a Welcome Back sign in front of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

There’s so much happening at The Children’s Museum throughout the year, it’s impossible to fit the entire experience into just one day. The best way to ensure you experience all we have to offer throughout the year? Buy a membership. In addition to special discounts and access to members-only events like Member Mornings and special previews of our new exhibits, you have unlimited admission to The Children’s Museum. Believe us. Once you experience Dinosphere®, Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit, SCOOBY-DOOMansion Mayhem, and the new hockey exhibit, you’ll want to visit The Children’s Museum again and again and again. 

After celebrating the highlights of 2021, we don’t know about you, but we’re feeling ’22. 

And you don’t want to miss out.