IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Larger scope for Children's Museum's Playscape

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

When an outstanding exhibition temporarily parks in a local museum, that’s cause for excitement.

However, when a permanent exhibition gets an outstanding upgrade—when the improvements will be around not just for months but perhaps for a generation—that’s cause for celebration.

And so allow me to celebrate here the transformation of Playscape, the corner of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis dedicated to the 5-and-under set.
 

ae-playscapemain-1col.jpg At the newly upgraded and expanded Playscape at the Children’s Museum,the under-5 set creates, interacts and explores in a screen-free environment. (Photos courtesy of the Children’s Museum)

To be fair, Playscape was a great place to begin with. My kids spent their early years in the previous iteration, which always proved a welcoming place for curious kids and their patient parents. The new version, though, which officially opened Aug. 31, is of an entirely different order, mercifully free of high-tech and with a clear focus on the way kids play and learn.

As their kids toddle off to the various zones, adult Playscape vets are likely to note the expansion (to nearly 8,500 square feet), the ditching of the drop ceiling (taking the height up to 35 feet), and the addition of windows (the earlier version had none). Now set on the southeast corner of the building, Playscape embraces the outside world rather than hides from it. And while the airy feel certainly puts a greater burden on the rarely acknowledged (but terrific) Children’s Museum janitorial staff, the space certainly feels cleaner and more welcoming.


ae-playscape2-15col.jpg

What will your kids and grandkids run toward? There’s the expected climbing area—a netting-enclosed series of lily pads leading up to a pair of boats near the ceiling. The expected downhill water table includes plenty of boats, cups and more (with waterproof vests available, of course). And the expected sandbox is sizable, only now including cool turntables for creating sand designs—which I witnessed children using intuitively without parental guidance.

Areas devoted to art and music are well-stocked with hands-on items. You would expect the music zone to be a headache inducer, but kudos to whomever did the instrument selection and designed the acoustics. Even with an untrained band of kids banging, the space never felt cacophonous. Frankly, I’ve heard a lot worse at legit music festivals.

A new area houses a mechanical Rube Goldberg-esque Reaction Contraption that, unlike the one that used to be in the ScienceWorks area, is interactive. Near it sits the fun Whirly Twirly Tower—think of those grab-the-money chambers only with ribbons and scarves swirling around instead of cash. Air blowers also power the imagination in the Babyscape area, where the littlest of littles collect leaves, insert them into a tube, push a button, and send them flying.


ae-playscape3-2col.jpg

Kids may not notice or appreciate that the changing table is now along a wall of the exhibition, making it possible for parents of multiple kids to watch one while diapering another. And you no longer have to venture out to the hall to take a child to the restroom. You can enter right from Playscape—which also includes comfortable nursing rooms.

Best of all: Throughout the new Playscape, you won’t find toy tie-ins, licensed characters, gift-shop come-ons or video screens. You will find kids having a blast—so much so that there are now timed entrance tickets, a la Disney World’s Fastpass system. My advice: If you are taking your own kids and aren’t part of a field trip, avoid 9:30 a.m. to noon on school days.



Speaking of kids, my eldest daughter is getting married in November, which means that objectivity was certainly a challenge when I attended Beef & Boards’ “Father of the Bride” (through Sept. 29).

Putting aside my personal connection to the material as best I can (and admitting to some tears), I must say that while the sweet moments play well, the overall impact of each of the two film versions is largely lost on stage.

No fault of the able cast. Rather, blame the decision to half-heartedly force-feed a 1950s piece into the present day. Reducing a show that calls for 16 actors plus extras into an eight-player, under-populated production also proves penny-wise and pound foolish. Trying to fit this nostalgic piece into contemporary times is a strain that rivals that of father-of-the bride George Banks trying to squeeze into his old tuxedo.•

__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Playscape
    totally agree with your review of Playscape. It's wonderful to see the happy families when they leave the area. It's an unbelievable area. Congratulations on the wedding.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

  2. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............

  3. Good try, Mr. Irwin, but I think we all know the primary motivation for pursuing legal action against the BMV is the HUGE FEES you and your firm expect to receive from the same people you claim to be helping ~ taxpayers! Almost all class action lawsuits end up with the victim receiving a pittance and the lawyers receiving a windfall.

  4. Fix the home life. We're not paying for your child to color, learn letters, numbers and possible self control. YOU raise your children...figure it out! We did. Then they'll do fine in elementary school. Weed out the idiots in public schools, send them well behaved kids (no one expects perfection) and watch what happens! Oh, and pray. A mom.

  5. To clarify, the system Cincinnati building is just a streetcar line which is the cheapest option for rail when you consider light rail (Denver, Portland, and Seattle.) The system (streetcar) that Cincy is building is for a downtown, not a city wide thing. With that said, I think the bus plan make sense and something I shouted to the rooftops about. Most cities with low density and low finances will opt for BRT as it makes more financial and logistical sense. If that route grows and finances are in place, then converting the line to a light rail system is easy as you already have the protected lanes in place. I do think however that Indy should build a streetcar system to connect different areas of downtown. This is the same thing that Tucson, Cincy, Kenosha WI, Portland, and Seattle have done. This allows for easy connections to downtown POI, and allows for more dense growth. Connecting the stadiums to the zoo, convention center, future transit center, and the mall would be one streetcar line that makes sense.

ADVERTISEMENT