The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the World's largest children's museum. It is located in the United Northwest Area neighborhood on Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. It is 472,900 square feet (43,933.85 sq m) with five floors of exhibit halls and receives more than one million visitors annually.
Its collection of over 120,000 artifacts and exhibit items are divided into three domains: the American Collection, the Cultural World Collection, and the Natural World Collection. Among the exhibits are a simulated Cretaceous dinosaur habitat, a carousel, and a steam locomotive. Because the museum's targeted audience is children, most exhibits are designed to be interactive allowing children to actively participate.
The main stairwell of the museum is a giant spiral ramp which allows visitors to access all five levels of the museum by strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers. In 2006, glass artist Dale Chihuly installed a four story glass sculpture inside the central atrium of the giant spiral ramp. The sculpture is called Fireworks of Glass and is accompanied by an exhibit of Chihuly's glass blowing methods.
Lower Level: The National Geographic: Treasures of the Earth exhibit, which includes three areas, is located on the Lower Level of the museum and was first opened on June 11, 2011. One area contains ancient Egyptian artifacts presented in a replica of the tomb of Seti I. Another area has a simulated archeological dig where artifacts about Zhao Zheng, the first Emperor of China, were discovered. The third area features artifacts retrieved from a pirate ship wreck.
The lower level also hosts a planetarium, a theater, and a 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg) steam engine designed by Reuben Wells in 1868 to conquer Indiana’s Madison Hill. The engine is attached to a Pennsylvania Railroad caboose that visitors can find in the museum's "All Aboard!" Gallery.
Main Floor: On the main floor/ground level the Museum has the Welcome Center with adult and juvenile Brachiosaur sculptures climbing into the front. These sculptures are physiologically accurate to current paleontological knowledge and were created by Gary Staab and painted by Brian Cooley who created the sauropod sculptures which are crashing out of the Dinosphere. Outside the museum on this level is the Seven Wonders of the World garden, a green rain garden, parking garage, and the oversize parking lot to accommodate large parties of visitors such as schools on field trips.
A focal point of the ground level of the museum is North America's largest water clock, created by French physicist and artist Bernard Gitton. The main floor contains The Children's Museum toy store and food court. The volunteer center, concierge desk and birthday party rooms are also on this level.
Second Floor: The museum also contains a 3,000-square-foot (280 sq m) branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library called the InfoZone. During the latest expansion in 2009, this space was moved to the second floor outside of the skywalk which links the parking garage to the main building. The second level hosts many of the museum's temporary exhibits.
Third Floor: The third level features "The Power of Children: Making a Difference", a permanent exhibit featuring the stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White and the impact these children made on the world. The second exhibit on the third floor is "Playscape," a learning and Play area designed for children 5 years and younger.
Fourth Floor: One of the museum's most popular attractions is the Broad Ripple Park Carousel in the Carousel Wishes and Dreams gallery on the fourth floor. The carousel was originally built for an amusement park (now Broad Ripple Park) in 1917 and was restored and reinstalled in this museum in 1973. It is the largest of the museum's artifacts. The carousel is a National Historic Landmark.
Dinosphere: Dinosphere features a sound and light experience that simulates a day in the late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago. The center of the exhibit space includes three themed fossil scenes. Visitors can perform fossil excavations in the Dig Site, touch a real Tyrannosaurus rex femur fossil in the Paleo Prep Lab, talk to real paleontologists, enjoy family-friendly games and touch-screen learning activities, and view numerous real dinosaur fossils from the Cretaceous period on display.
Dinosphere is one of the largest displays of juvenile and family dinosaur fossils in the U.S. The exhibit features several species of dinosaurs including Hypacrosaurus, Prenoceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, Gorgosaurus, Maiasaura, Bambiraptor, Oviraptor, and Dracorex hogwartsia. Several ancient non-dinosaur creatures are also featured, including Didelphodon, Sarcosuchus (super croc), and Pteranodon.