Established in 1925, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is one of the most-respected museums in the nation, offering unique experiences such as the Dinosphere© and the five-story Fireworks of Glass sculpture by artist Dale Chihuly. In recent years, it has been rated one of the top children's museums in the country by Parent magazine, Forbes Traveler and Child magazine.
The Indianapolis Children's Museum is located at 3000 North Meridian Street, with the free parking garage at 3000 North Illinois Street. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily through Labor Day, Tuesday-Sunday after Labor Day through February. Admission for adults is $18.50; tickets for children are $14.50 and senior tickets are $19.50. Children 2 and under are free. Each month, Target sponsors a free admission night. The first Thursday of every month from 4 - 8 p.m., the museum opens its doors free of charge. The concierge desk specializes in helping visitors with everything from acquiring emergency diapers to finding hotel rooms. You can reach the museum customer service department with any questions at 317-635-3344.
From the second visitors spot The Indianapolis Children's Museum, it is obvious that the experience is going to be like none other. Dinosaurs burst out of the front windows and side brick, a walkway crosses above the street and huge Transformers Bumblebee sculpture greets eager visitors. From the beginning of the visit until the you're pulling the kids towards the parking garage, the museum will hold your attention. In addition to the many exhibits, the museum has two theaters. The Lilly theater offers performances for children and the SpaceQuest Planetarium® is a full-dome planetarium. Admission into both theaters is included in the entrance price. At the Children's Museum, it's not only okay to poke buttons or touch exhibits, it's encouraged! Children will love the opportunity to explore and discover the exhibits for themselves.
The museum features over 120,000 artifacts. In addition to the many popular permanent exhibits, the museum is constantly rotating traveling exhibits. There's always something new and fresh at the museum, which is great for children who easily grow bored. Here are just some of the exhibits you can expect:
- What kid doesn't love dinosaurs? This special exhibit allows kids the opportunity to unearth dinosaur fossils. The innovative exhibit takes visitors into the heart of a dinosaur-filled jungle. Step inside the Cretaceous Period into the world of dinosaurs and explore the sights, sounds and smells. Experience a realistic thunderstorm or dress up like a baby dinosaur and sit in a nest of eggs. The museum has a fully functioning paleo-lab and even offers trips for families to join staff experts on real-life digs. If you visit the museum, you cannot miss the Dinosphere© exhibit.
- National Geographic Treasures of the Earth
- This exhibit provides hands-on opportunities for children to participate in archaeological discoveries. Children and adults alike will thrill at the opportunity to discover the plunder of a sunken pirate ship, a pharoah's tomb and ancient terra cotta Chinese warrior statues. What makes this two story exhibit so unique is the pretend play it inspires is based upon real, on-going archaeological finds.
- All Aboard!
- Travel to Madison, Indiana in the 1890s and view the impressive Reuben Wells, a 35-foot-long, 55-ton steam engine. The engine was built to climb the steepest railroad grade in the United States - Indiana's Madison Hill. The exhibit allows visitors to operate some of the control lights, switches and signals on the track, pretend play at the train station and view a large collection of train toys. Crawl through tunnels to get up close to toy trains and walk beneath traveling trains as they wind through the exhibit.
- ScienceWorks: Dow Science Center
- Science is all around us and this exhibit makes that fact come alive with its interactive stations. Kids can get their hands wet at the watershed table or crawl like an earthworm through the habitats of underground animals. "Drive" construction vehicles and move materials while exploring engineering principles. Climb the 20-foot rock wall and experiment with physics. To learn about nutrition and the importance of active play, visit the Health House.
- For children ages 5 and under, Playscape is the perfect spot. This hands-on exhibit allows young children to explore and learn about their world in a safe environment that is just their size. Water and sand tables allow children to pour and measure as they learn basic science concepts. Children are encouraged to create beautiful art in the Arts Garden or pretend play in the Fantasy Forest.
- Fireworks of Glass
- The Fireworks of Glass tower stands 42 feet tall in the museum’s central atrium. Created by artist Dale Chihuly, the tower includes over 3,200 pieces of individually blown glass. Under the tower is the ceiling, featuring another 1,600 pieces. At the lower level, families can recline on a rotating platform to view the ceiling. Children are encourage to create their own artistic pieces from plastic replicas of Chihuly's pieces.
- Carousel Wishes and Dreams
- No trip to the Children's Museum is complete without a ride on the carousel. Originally built in 1917 and installed in Broad Ripple Park, the carousel animals were brought to the museum in 1970. Since then, the attraction has become a favorite with visitors. Cost to ride the carousel is $1.
The food court offers a variety of meal and snack choices. Starbucks® coffee, pizza, deli, burgers and cookies are just a few of the choices. In addition, the museum allows families to bring sack lunches and eat in the food court. So for budget-conscious families, this is a great money-saving option.