Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Children's Museum for Adults

If visiting Indianapolis, even for a day, I would highly recommend seeing the Children's Museum - you will not be disappointed.

Depending on where you live in the city, its about a 15-20 minute drive, fairly centrally located with ample free parking garages. The elevator from the parking garage directly connects to the skyway, which also acts as an entry ramp to the museum.
Taking a membership here, is very worthwhile, especially if you live here . Being that it is a Children's museum, one would automatically assume it to be kid-friendly. Worry not, it most certainly is kid and stroller friendly for those wandering toddlers. But above all, the museum offers and caters to adults as well.
Situated right smack in the center atrium of the museum, surrounded by ramp-ways that lead up and down the different floors, is this mind-"blowing" sculpture (as seen in the picture) -the "Fireworks of Glass" . It is the largest permanent blown glass piece of art by artist - Dale Chihuly. Just the structure itself is 43 feet tall. It is made up of more than 4800 pieces of glass and it took 14 days to install. This colorful work of art magestically placed in the atrium is a visual delight attracting wonder from all ages.
One very interesting fact about this sculpture is its floating ceiling just under the tower. More than 1500 pieces of glass of various shapes, sizes and colors float on the ceiling (as shown here) . You can take in this visual brilliance by sitting on a revolving chair/platform and looking up. It is absolutely breathtaking. The colorful glass pieces shine and shimmer when the sunlight hits it at different angles.
There is a lot that the museum has to offer, to spark varied interests among the young and the not-so-young such as Mysteries in History, Passport to the World, Scienceworks, Biotech Learning - for the young teens. You also have Story Avenue, Playscape - for the tiny tots. The carousel wishes and dreams is fun place to hang out and experience a carnival like environment.But probably our most favorite of all the exhibits - is the DINOSPHERE. Even before we entered the museum, this picture(shown here) taken from the road was enough to spark our curiousity. And once we stepped into the DINO-ZONE, we were literally tranported into an era - 65 million years ago.
After spending time observing these gigantic creatures, we learnt that this was one of the largest displays of real dinosaur fossils in the United States. But what impressed us the most was the presentation leading to this magnificient display. The gigantic dome like structure hosting this spectacular, had the most advanced lazer, acoustic and light effects to create a mesmerizing life like environment (as seen here) which could be appreciated from different levels each having its own appeal. If nothing else, I would absolutely insist that you do not miss this multisensory experience. It certainly made us stop and think about the scale and proportion of these massive creatures that walked our planet millions of years ago. Thanks to such exhibits, we can atleast imagine what it must have been like.
On site within the Dinosphere is also a functioning paleontology lab with interesting activities for children to indulge in.

Although this is a Children's museum, it is every bit appealing to the adult and measures up completely to its reputation. After visiting it, I have to admit - we got more than our money's worth.
Definitely a must see!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Its not Windy - its Indy!!

Not more than 3 hours drive south of the Windy city is Indy City!! A lesser known haven for big town weekenders to get away from the crowded downtowns and hurried pace of life. Its hard to imagine but the short road trip to this small town still lets you relax, recover and revitalize.
By Geography and population, Indianapolis is definitely smaller and more compact compared to big neighboring cities, but has a curb side appeal which attracts out-of-towners not just for the weekend, but to re-visit it again. It has everything that one would seek in a big city minus the hassle, noise or traffic.

As many do, we chose to fly into Chicago (being that its a big hub and the frequency and flight availability superceeds flying direct into Indy, not to mention its lot cheaper flying into the smaller airport) and then drive down to Indianapolis. Chicago's Midway airport is often less talked about, as compared to its much favored humongous rival -O'hare...but landing at Midway is quite an experience by itself. You get the feeling of almost crashing into homes and buildings 2 seconds prior to touch down! Its quite un-believable. Makes you wonder about the dextirity of the pilots who land their planes here and about serious noise-proofing for homes and offices!

Chicago perpetually seems to be in construction mode. Be it roads, rail lines, building or stadiums. It felt like getting out of the city took longer than driving downtown in rush hour. But thanks to the clear and precise instructions called out by the GPS lady in the mini-van, we made it through! What with detours and blocked exits, we would have been circling Chicago for many hours, had it not been for the GPS system installed in the car. Much recommended when seeking out new places and destinations.
Once out of Illinois, driving on Hwy 65 was a breeze, hardly any traffic even though this was the Indy 500 weekend. Wide spread mustard fields lining the highway was a pleasant sight and kept us company thorughout. Due to the timing of our flight, we arrived in Indy late at night, but it was a very comfortable and do-able drive from Chicago...so I would recommend it, if you are patient enough to deal with construction for the first 30 minutes of your 3 hour trip.
Our weekend trip to sunny Indiana was truly an eye-opener and every bit refreshing as one could expect. There is lots more to this racecar-crazed city than just the Indy 500 and we are certain that one weekend, did not do it justice.