LOU'S VIEWS: Block party at the Children's Museum

March 30, 2009
My intention on my latest visit to The Children's Museum of Indianapolis was to check out the new "Star Wars: the Clone Wars, the Exhibition," but I found little of interest there to anyone but the hard-core fan. While I appreciate that not everything at the largely hands-on local treasure can be interactive, I was hoping for more than a showcase-covered collection of memorabilia—costumes, light sabers, etc. Much of the material is connected to the movies rather than the cartoon series (that's a plus, given the disappointing series).

On the positive side, the exhibition doesn't monopolize any existing galleries. Instead, it fills previously underused spaces near the planetarium, making it a nice discovery rather than a plan-a-visit show.

Of course, a trip to the Children's Museum is never wasted. There's always plenty going on, including, this time, a live production of "Sleeping Beauty" in the Lilly Theater. The 40-minute show managed to be playful without being smirky, and innocent without being cloying. Nothing groundbreaking, but as a free addition, it should meet or exceed most expectations. Some nifty lighting and sound effects are a plus.

I also spent quality time at "Lego Castle Adventure," which offers yet more proof that parental attention span is much shorter than kids. There are impressively massive Lego sculptures, a dress-up area, some instructional sessions on castle construction, and a few computer-screened areas, but the centerpiece of the exhibition is exactly what it should be: bins of Lego pieces and tables to build on.

My objection to Lego over its more recent history has been its push toward marketing pre-packaged kits that lead to a specific product, making them more like models and less about imaginative creation. This exhibit space, with its open-ended structure-less structure, encourages experimentation, without any instructions or finished photos telling you whether you got it "right."

If parents find themselves bored, my advice is to just do what I did: Join in the construction fun. Just don't hog all the cool pieces.

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This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming events to lharry@ibj.com. Visit ibj.com/artsfor additional reviews, previews and arts discussion.
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