Even before you purchase your tickets, it’s obvious that the Indianapolis Children’s Museum is a magical place. The foyer has all sorts of interesting items that will catch your child’s imagination, including a life-size brontosaurus climbing through the entryway with a smaller baby brontosaurus. During our visit, there was also a temporary Transformers exhibit at the museum so we also were able to see Bumblebee in the entrance area.
After you purchase tickets and enter the museum, there are five floors of exhibits to choose from. Yes, literally five floors. This is the largest children’s museum in the world! We choose to begin at the bottom (in the Dinosphere) and work our way up.
The fossils collected at the Indianopolis Children’s Museum are amazing. We’ve been to a lot of museums and this is the most extensive collection of dinosaur fossils I’ve seen other than the National Museum of Natural History (part of the Smithsonian). With that said, the only disadvantage to this area (and subsequently my only criticism) is that there is no presentation of various theories of how the dinosaurs were preserved or the time in which they lived. As with most modern museums, it is assumed that the earth is billions of years old and the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. It would have been nice to see an exhibit or at least a small area dedicated to the fact that all these ideas are theory and that in fact the earth might be only thousands of years old and it’s possible that the dinosaur fossils were preserved through the Biblical flood event. But anyway, regardless of one’s beliefs about when the dinosaurs lived, you can’t help but be completely amazed at the presentation of these majestic creatures.
From the dinosphere, we back up toward the first floor. Since I was in a wheelchair for this visit, it was nice that there were ramps all over the museum. There is also an elevator, but the entire museum was wheelchair accessible. Awesome!
As we traveled back upstairs, we enjoyed an amazing exhibit about trains. There is a neat opportunity for visitors to sit in the back of a train while scenery buzzes by through a window so it looks like you’re really in a moving train. Even older visitors will enjoy this area.
One of my favorite exhibits was the Terra Cotta Warriors Exhibit with replica soldiers from a terra cotta army found in China in 1974. Workers were digging a well when they found the first terra cotta soldiers – one of thousands. It’s an amazing story. This area of the museum has many fun activities, including a dig area where children (or adults!) can unearth a soldier.
Further on, we spent a good deal of time reassembling a sarcophagus lid in the Tomb of Seti I. The artifacts and hieroglyphs in this exhibit were beautiful and amazing to look at.
On the lower level, we were also mesmerized by the Fireworks of Glass exhibit. This spectacular work of art was created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly and completed in 2006. Visitors can recline back on a revolving platform and look up at amazing works of glass art. The glass art is stunning and could literally captivate visitors’ attention for hours if not pulled away. If you have someone who doesn’t want to leave the area, just remind them that there is also a glass tower that extends all the way up through five stories that they can enjoy as they travel through the museum!
Some other highlights of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum are temporary exhibits like Inside Hollywood (with a terrific collection of movie memorabilia), the SpaceQuest Planetarium, What’s Your Style and Take Me There: China. In the China exhibit, there are small replica buildings for a Chinese market, restaurant, and herbal shop. There is even a plane that can “take” you to China. One of my favorite parts of this exhibit, however, was the language demonstration. Both Hannah and I were able to learn some Chinese symbols from a couple of very sweet ladies visiting from China specifically to help others learn about their culture. We normally don’t buy souvenirs, but when we left the museum we even bought our own tools to do Chinese writing at home. (There are all kinds of goodies in the gift shop!)
In short, this is an amazing museum. I could literally write another few pages about the wonderful time we had there. I wouldn’t hesitate to strongly recommend a visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. It really is the best children’s museum we’ve ever visited and there is something for everyone. Here are some final notes…
You can find hours and admission prices here.
Most of the exhibits we visited are permanent, but you can always read about exhibits here.
There is a food court for easy accessibility to food during your stay. I would recommend that you make plans to eat here so you don’t have to leave the museum. The food was reasonably priced and tasty (although the chili was a little spicy!). More information for the food court is here.
Parking is free and directly beside or in front of the museum. There was also plenty of handicapped parking with easy accessibility. I had encountered difficulty all week with parking and accessibility at various places so it was definitely refreshing to find a place that actually did have good wheelchair access.
Service at the museum was excellent. From the front door through various exhibits and into areas such as the food court and the gift shop, service was top notch. Workers were polite, served with a smile and eager to help.
Plan to stay for a full day. We arrived at the museum when it opened. Later, we ate lunch in the food court, which only took about 30 minutes, and we didn’t leave until the museum closed at 5:00. Even with an entire day, we still didn’t have time to see all the exhibits (although we spent a lot of time in each one we visited). If you can only visit for a few hours, then by all means do so, but if you live near the museum, I would recommend one of the membership packages the museum has to offer.
Finally, if you’re able, take a camera or phone that can take photos. Throughout the museum there are opportunities to take photos and post to social media. Or just take them for your own collection, but you’ll want keepsakes of the visit if possible. If not, don’t worry. With the life-size dinosaurs, spectacular fossils, amazing exhibits and countless opportunities for fun and learning, you’re not likely to forget a visit to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum!