Following my well-received weeklong series on Chicago's Field Museum, I decided to do something similar for The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children's museum in the world. Whether or not you have kids in tow, it's a worthwhile place for any dinosaur enthusiast to visit.
Even if you'd never heard of the museum and just stumbled upon it while wandering Indianapolis, you would immediately realize this: the exterior is dominated by two playful, traffic-stopping sauropod sculptures. The first are a set of three Alamosaurs, a mother and her offspring, bursting through the museum walls. They were conceived and created by 2005 Lanzendorf prize winner Brian Cooley, who has a long history of creating surprising dinosaur sculptures, such as the luggage-defiling dromaeosaurs at Calgary International Airport.
Photo by John Ballard, via flickr.
Lest these sauropods should give the impression that the museum is a place to escape, the two brachiosaurs below show the great efforts these giants will take to get in.
Photo by Bob Wollpert, via flickr.
Unveiled last year with the museum's new welcome center, this Brachiosaurus pair was conceived of by the museum's CEO, Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, and sculpted by another giant in paleontology sculpture, Gary Staab. Both of these sculptures deliver a message about the museum, about the organization's excitement and dedication to engage children's curiosity and teach science and critical thinking in a completely pain-free way. The interpreters on hand are a constant presence, giving frequent demonstrations, answering questions, and ensuring that no visitor - whether child or adult - leaves thinking they've just had a stroll through what amounts to a nice set of dioramas. The dinosaur setpieces have all been designed with teaching points in mind, and these are explained clearly and enthusiastically by the staff.
All this week, I'll be featuring posts about the dinosaurian delights of the Children's Museum. Thanks to Josh Estes, the museum's Dinosphere and Treasures of the Earth Manager and Interpreter, I had the chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour that gave me a new appreciation for the way exhibits for children are built, from the birth of the concept to the last coat of paint. If you've been to the Children's Museum, I hope it does the same for you. If you haven't been there, maybe it will add it to your travel to-do list.