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This Week’s WOW

Haunted Houses for Kids & Teens—Friendly, Frightening, or Extreme?

Note: This blog was originally posted in 2012 and is now updated for the 2014 Haunted House season!

It's that time of year again! The Children's Museum Guild, a group of amazing women, have volunteered THOUSANDS of hours to making this year's Haunted House Fa-BOO-lous for you and your family. This is the museum's largest annual fundraiser and goes to help fund initiatives for families and the community throughout the year.

One thing that makes our Haunted House unique is that we offer a variety of scare levels for you and your family, including IPL's Lights On Hours (for kids who scare easily), Defender Direct's Frightening Hours (for kids who dare to be scared), and Williams Comfort Air's XTREME SCREAM Fridays and Saturdays (recommended for super brave visitors).

Every year parents ask us which we recommend for their family. This is a difficult question! Although each child is different and there is no right or wrong answer, we do have some tips for you. Here are some details to help you in your decision. And don't miss this handy infographic that will help you choose your scare level!

Lights-On ($7)

  • Includes fun, upbeat music with all lights turned up.
  • Friendly-faced greeters are in each room of the house passing out treats to visitors similar to trick-or-treating.
  • Children can play seek-and-find with pictures of the annual Haunted House mascot— Witchkins this year—as they move through the rooms of the house to help play up the fun of each room.
  • Each room also features a Halloween-related fun fact to ask your child such as "how many bones are in the human body?" (A: 206!)


Frightening ($7)

  • Includes spooky music and minimal lighting.
  • Haunters hide throughout the house to jump out and scare unsuspecting visitors.
  • Although visual effects are used to maximize the scare experience, the frightening-factor of the Haunted House focuses more on the "startle" rather than gore.
  • Many visitors will scream with surprise or fear as they move throughout the House.



  • Friday and Saturday nights only from 9–11 p.m. and recommended for teens and adults.
  • Takes fright to the next level through an extreme mind/body fright experience.
  • Incorporates all five senses resulting in sensory overload as you go on a harrowing thrill ride through the Carnival where you'll encounter such hideous sights that once seen, cannot be unseen!
  • Unlike the “startle scare” of frightening hours, Xtreme Scream is a choreographed “show” that uses extreme props, costumes and make-up to bring the story to life.
  • A safe sign will be given to visitors in the event they are unable to make it through the experience.


If you're better with visuals, check out this 2012 episode of This Week's WOW to see how the haunters prepare for Frightening Hours. It's a great way to show little ones that the witches are really just playing dress up.

If you are still questioning which version of the Haunted House to bring your child to, consider how they handle scary books, movies and TV shows. If they are often afraid of spooky things outside of Halloween, they might prefer a lights-on experience for at least another year. Buy your tickets now!


The Making of Playscape | This Week's WOW episode 71

As we're sure you know by now, the new Playscape exhibit is now open at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis! You've all been along for the ride as we created this extraordinary new exhibit, and you've even given feedback and suggestions that helped shape what it is today.

We have one more fun surprise for you—6 months of Playscape construction in less than 3 minutes! So if you your kiddo wants to know just how that climber made it all the way up to the third floor, check out This Week's WOW!

And as Josh and Mookie hint in the video, we are on to the next project! Learn more about what's in store.

This Week's WOW: Indianapolis 500 Race Car

The month of May in Indianapolis means racing! One of the museum's most popular icons is an official IndyCar show caron loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Your child can hop inside and see what it feels like to be behind the wheel. Learn more about the car in This Week's WOW!

This Week's WOW: Mystery Edition

Josh and Claire get a new job on the night shift at The Children's Museum. Watch all four episodes as they find clues and try to solve a mystery to keep "bad things" from happening at the museum!

Episode 1

Are Josh and Claire ready to take on a night at the museum?

Episode 2

What will Josh and Claire find "behind the curtain" in Dinosphere?

Episode 3

Josh and Claire explore collections storage in search of the next clue...but watch out for squirrels!


Episode 4

Josh and Claire visit Lilly Theater for the final clue which leads them back to where they started. Will "bad things" happen at the museum? Find out!

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

Theater Make-up | This Week's WOW ep. 61

Lilly Theater, a live children's theater located inside The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, produces 3 new shows every year. We're excited to announce the next show will be The Tortoise and the Hare, opening March 16! As you can imagine, it's hard to transform a human into an animal without using masks and still make that character realistic. It takes creativity and a lot of skill. In This Week's WOW, we introduce you to the talented make-up artist who is making it happen. You'll learn where she finds inspiration and some of her techniques (like what colors to apply first). Plus, find out what happens when Josh challenges her to a competition!

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

Geeking out on Geckos | This Week's WOW ep. 60

We have new friends visiting the museum for a limited time only. They're geckos--superstars of the lizard world! With more than a thousand different species of geckos, there is so much to learn. In This Week's WOW, Josh gets up close and personal (REALLY up close and personal) with one of the largest geckos--a New Caledonian Day Gecko. Check it out:

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

Construction Shop Sneak Peek | This Week's WOW ep. 59

Take a peek inside our rarely seen construction shop, and find out what we're making this week. Almost all exhibit elements are designed, built, and tested inside this shop located in the basement of the museum. You just might see something you recognize! Plus, meet the team of incredible craftsmen that create the exhibits you know and love.

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

Jolly Days Was Stolen! | This Week's WOW ep. 58

It's hard to believe the holidays are over! As quickly as our winter exhibit Jolly Days went up, now it's time to take it down. It takes 2,700 hours for us to decorate the museum for the holidays, and more than 5 semi trucks to take it all away to storage. In This Week's WOW, see incredible timelapse video of the exhibit transforming from your family's favorite holiday tradition to a white box ready for the next big exhibit to arrive. The museum is always changing to ensure your experience is fresh and new each time you visit.

Check it out:

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

So what's next?! Geckos! Stop by the museum Feb. 2-May 15 and meet the superstars of the lizard world! 

New Playscape Sneak Peek | This Week's WOW ep. 57

We've been hard at work renovating Playscape to make it bigger and better than ever! In This Week's WOW, take your VERY first glimpse into the re-envisioning of one of the museum's most beloved permanent galleries. Join us as we explore the new Playscape with Josh and Claire, and imagine the extraordinary new exhibit with help from Senior Exhibit Developer, Cathy Donnelly...

So what's behind that "New Playscape" wall? Right now the space has been cleared out and windows are beginning to be installed. This panoramic is your first peek at the space as it appeared in December...

Demo playscape







Here in our social media headquarters, we sit directly below the Playscape gallery. Occassionally we'll see a cherry picker pass by our second story office window. This is our cue that they're hard at work demo-ing the space, or putting in the new wall of windows.

cherry picker

The Playscape gallery will remain closed until this summer, but don't worry! Over the next few months we'll continue to share sneak peeks into the exhibit's progress. In the meantime, don't forget that our young visitors and their families can explore our temporary exhibit, Mr. Bear's Playhouse!

Songs of the Children's Museum | This Week's WOW ep. 56

As I'm sure you all know, museums are often filled with creative people. Here at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis it's no different. Today, we introduce you to our Creative Director, Ned Shaw. You may not know his face, but I bet you know his voice! Ned is the voice (and brain!) behind most of the songs in the museum's tv commercials—Songs like the ones played in the Wicked Workshop Haunted House or the LEGO Travel Adventure commercials.

And if you were at Santa's Big Arrival a few weeks ago, you probably sang along to one of his original songs, "12 Days of Jolly Days."

In This Week's WOW, get a sneak peek at his latest jingle. Plus, meet another creative museum staff member who also creates museum-themed songs! Check it out:

Looking for more This Week's WOW? Catch up on the blog or follow along on YouTube

Mummies at the Museum | This Week's WOW ep. 53

Did you know, Halloween isn't the ONLY time you can see mummies around The Children's Museum of Indianapolis! In This Week's WOW, Josh and Claire take you down to National Geographic Treasures of the Earth where Claire finds a very peculiar type of mummy. Check it out:

And if you're just looking for some good ol' fashion Halloween mummies, you can check out Wicked Workshop, the museum's Haunted House, now through Oct. 31. It's perfect Halloween fun for kids and families! Happy Halloween!

This Week's WOW | The Caplan Collection

Did you know, we have a collection of more than 120,000 objects at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis?! That is already pretty rare for a children's museum, but something that makes our collection even more unique is that you can actually TOUCH some of the artifacts.

In This Week's WOW, Josh and Claire explore the Caplan Collection which contains many of those hands-on artifacts. The Caplan Collection was donated to the museum in 1985 by Frank and Theresa Caplan, co-founders of the Creative Playthings toy company and experts in childhood development. The collection holds nearly 32,000 objects representative of toys, dolls, games, and folk art from over 120 different countries around the world! It truly is one of the most colorful areas of the collection.

This episode is our 50th episode of This Week's WOW (can you believe it?!). Catch up on all 50 episodes on our This Week's WOW playlist on YouTube. We have videos on everything from science experiments to how we make the thunderstorm in Dinosphere.

This Week's WOW—Textiles Collection

By Christy O’Grady, Chief Conservator

Generally, visitors to The Children's Museum of Indianapolis aren’t surprised to find exhibits filled with rare and wonderful toys and games, amazing dinosaur fossils, and even ancient Egyptian artifacts.  However, they might be surprised to find a Chinese Imperial Robe displayed in an exhibit  about dinosaurs and dragons, or Koryiak and Inuit clothing in an exhibit about polar bears and penguins!

The Children's Museum has actively collected textiles since its founding in the 1920’s. Today this collection includes almost 9,000 objects that include adult and children’s clothing as well as household and ceremonial textiles from all over the world. This incredibly diverse collection includes wedding gowns and Halloween costumes, opera capes and cowboy chaps, feathered parkas, silk kimonos and even a headdress made from beetle wings!

As you can imagine, proper storage all these wonderful pieces takes A LOT OF ROOM! Presently, the textile collection is stored in two cramped rooms where overcrowding is causing damage to fragile fibers and delicate beading. In fact, sometimes the curators find it challenging to select pieces for exhibit because the shelves are so crowded it is difficult to safely remove an object from its storage box.

The solution? A state of the art mobile shelving system that would allow us to store everything properly and make access much easier for staff.  The challenge? Finding extra money and time to pay for the shelving and the careful transfer of every piece from the old to the new storage. 

The good news is that this spring the museum was awarding a prestigious grant from IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Sciences) to help us improve the storage of the textile collections.  The Conservation Project Support Grant contributed $125,000 to the museum to help us buy the super-efficient shelving system and hire temporary assistants to help with the rehousing. The entire project will cost $300,000 and take two years to complete. It’s a detailed plan that will also include updating all the records in the data base and creating custom storage mounts for many fragile garments. But at the end of the process we’ll be able to better protect and use all of the wonderful treasures in the textile collection.

This Week's WOW: The Science Of Glow Sticks And Lightning Bugs

When you think of lightning bugs and glow sticks, what comes to mind?

You may think of catching lightning bugs in a jar on a hot summer evening. You might imagine how the lightning bugs fill your backyard with twinkling lights around sunset during this time of year. And you might recall playing with glow sticks at a Fourth of July party, at a sleepover, or at a summer festival.

Now, this question is a bit tougher: What do lightning bugs and glow sticks have in common?

What likely comes to mind is the super-cool light they give off! And no, that light isn’t some sort of magic. Instead, that light has some really awesome science behind it!

In This Week’s WOW, co-hosts Claire and John venture into the Biotechnology Learning Center to get the low-down on why things glow.

What did they find out?

The glowing light that comes from glow sticks and lightning bugs—all without giving off heat—is called “luminescence,” says John McCollum, supervisor of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Biotechnology Learning Center.

To learn more about the science of luminescence, check out This Week’s WOW below:

So neat! What did you learn about luminescence? Can you think of any other things in the world around you that glow?

It’s amazing to think that science is all around us—even in the glow-in-the-dark stars on our bedroom ceiling! You can learn even more about
luminescence at the Light Up Your Life! program in the Biotech lab. Check the Biotech program schedule for each month and plan your visit.

If you liked This Week’s WOW, be on the lookout for our next videos, which will show the biggest, the best and the WOW aspects of The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Explore the Rooftop Garden

By Becky Wolfe, Science Programmer

Bright yellow and purple flowers. Lush green vegetation. Sounds like you are on the roof!  Wait. The roof? At The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, we have the Schaefer Rooftop garden, visible from the Sunburst Window. This beautiful garden is one of the ways the museum is trying to be greener and more sustainable. By adding this garden, we are helping with water conservation efforts.

When water falls on this garden or enters the garden from gutters on the roof, it is absorbed by the soil, which is a mixture of clay and plant food. We have to use a special mixture so the garden doesn’t become too heavy for the roof. Plants in the garden use the water and will even release this back into air.  Water that is not used by the plants, particularly if we have a huge rainstorm is filtered by the plants and soil.

So why would the museum want to capture this water? Why don’t we just it run into the sewers? In Indianapolis, all of the rain water that enters our sewer system is sent to the treatment plant. When we have a lot of rain, this puts a lot of stress and strain on the treatment facilities. By sending some of the rain water to our garden, we are helping to filter water and also lowering the burden on our treatment facilities.  We also provide a beautiful garden for visitors to enjoy!

In front of the Welcome Center, the museum has also installed a rain garden. The rain garden provides the same benefit to our environment.  While rooftop gardens can be difficult to install at home, a rain garden can be planted in your yard. Look for areas where water naturally collects in your yard or choose a place near your downspouts for your garden.  Send the water from your gutters into your garden to filter and conserve water. Native plants work well in rain gardens and there are many local resources to help install rain gardens. A quick internet search will connect you with experts!

Next time you are at the museum, stop by the Sunburst window, located on Level 2 to see the museum’s beautiful rooftop garden!

LEGO® Travel Adventure—This Week's WOW!

Spring is quickly approaching (can you believe the warm weather this week?!), and here at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, spring means Spring Break! This Spring Break we're especially excited about the LEGO® Travel Adventure exhibit that just opened.  The exhibit invites you to use one of the greatest building materials of all time—LEGO® bricks—as a vehicle for imagination. Where do you need to go? What does your vehicle need to do? You're not just along for the ride! You imagine the journey and the destination, and build your dream machine!

In This Week's WOW, Josh, Claire, and a special guest Nicole take part in a cool LEGO® challenge similar to what families will get to do at our LEGO® Late Night event on March 31. You pick the destination, determine what terrain you'll have to cross to get there, then build a vechicle to take you.

If you want to participate in a challenge like the one here, be sure to sign your family up for Spring Break LEGO® Late Night on March 31. If you're visiting from out of town this Spring Break, check out our hotel packages and get the most out of your family trip to Indianapolis.

LEGO® Travel Adventure is at the museum through July 22, 2012. Be sure to see it before it leaves!

Learn about QRpedia on This Week's Wow!

Some months ago I shared a little about the special QRpedia codes that we have in exhibits around the museum. When you scan these unique QR codes they go directly to Wikipedia articles about our collections objects. While Wikipedians (volunteers who edit Wikipedia articles) already know a lot about QRpedia codes, many museum visitors do not. I was very excited to teach Claire and Josh (and you!) all about QRpedia in This Week's Wow!

While I have been the Wikipedian in Residence at The Children's Museum for over a year and a half, this is my very first This Week's Wow appearance.  My four year old son is a huge fan of This Week's Wow, so he was amazed to see his very own mom on his favorite show.  His reaction: "Mommy, how did you get in there??" That will have to remain a mystery.

Check out This Week's Wow to learn all about our QRpedia codes, from who wrote the Wikipedia articles to the special feature that helps even more visitors learn about objects like Captain Kidd's cannon...

The Science of Flight Soars to the Museum!

Flight AdventuresOn February 25, the museum is launching (pun intended) a new experience called Curious Scientific Investigators: Flight Adventures. It’s not an exhibit, but more a series of experiences, programs, and a new multimedia show that teach children and families about flight. We’ve been thrilled to work with some great partners on this project including The Academy of Model Aeronautics that, believe or not, lives right down the road in Muncie, IN. When it comes to model aircraft, these are your guys and gals! This week’s guest blogger is Bill Pritchett from the AMA to tell you more about their organization and how they’re helping with this project.

Flight AdventuresBy Bill Pritchett, Director of Education at the Academy of Model Aeronautics

Before planes and space shuttles, there was aeromodeling, or the making of model aircrafts to test ideas and principles of flight. All the way back in the 1800s the father of the Wright brothers gave them a rubber-powered model aircraft, and less than 100 years later man walked on the moon! Aeromodeling is a truly significant component of actual flight. Plus, it provides learning, excitement and, most importantly, fun for its many followers.

We’re not just talking about paper airplanes here! Aeromodeling includes everything from Free Flight (FF) models, such as Hand Launched Gliders or Catapult Launched Gliders (now that sounds cool!), and also includes any powered aircraft (rubber band, electric, or gas) and radio-controlled flight, and the AMA has activities for all of these! (Check out this video to see a professional remote control pilot and AMA member flying his plane at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis!)

AMA has been a proud participant in a significant NASA grant with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  CSI: Flight Adventures  has developed some amazing opportunities for kids to be introduced to aeromodeling, the educational aspects of model aviation, and having fun while they learn.  

This program promotes and supports aviation as an educational tool to educators and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) qualities of flight. Flight Adventures is just the beginning. The partnership between the museum, NASA and AMA also begins a collective journey to a more comprehensive understanding of building and flying all types of model aircraft for America’s youth.

If your kids are interested in getting started with the AMA, visit our website!

Digging for Dinosaurs - You will be WOWed.

One of the things that makes The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis the biggest and best in the world is its ability to extend learning beyond the walls of 3000 N. Meridian Street. In fact, every summer, museum staff and paleontologists escape the Dinosphere dome and travel all the way to the Badlands of South Dakota where they dig for real dinosaur bones! And the best part? You can do it too. That’s right, families, teachers and adults are all invited to register for single or multiple days of dino digging fun. And yes, we find stuff. Lots of stuff.


For example…

Last summer we found over 200 65 million year old specimen including Nano-tyranous teeth, femora from school bus sized Edmontosaurus annectens (aka Duckbill Dinosaur), ribs, mandible pieces and so much more! 


Check out This Week’s WOW to see what a day at the dig site looks like and learn the answer to the question Just what happens to all those fossils once they’ve been discovered and can I use mine as a paper weight?



To learn more or to register for this summer’s dig, click here.

We're Bringing Back the Haunted House Shuffle!

October is one of my favorite months. The leaves start to change and the weather is (usually) beautiful. I love hot apple cider, bond fires, and, of course, Halloween!

At the museum, October is a MAJOR month. The Children's Museum Guild, a group of 100 volunteer women, works tirelessly for more than a year to put on an incredible Haunted House that provides Halloween fun for kids of all ages (there are friendly and frightening hours). The Haunted House is also a fundraiser with all of the proceeds befitting The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Witch hats on the dinosAs opening day of the Haunted House approaches (it runs Oct. 15–31), we start to see all of the subtle touches that make this month and event so special. Bats hanging from the ceiling in the Welcome Center. Window clings on the sliding doors. A bench featuring Vic and Viv, this year's mascots. Witch hats on the dinosaurs outside. If you're looking to get in the mood for Halloween, just stop by the museum! The detail that you see before you enter the house is nothing compared to the detail they put into the house. Every time I walk through I see something different.

This year the Guild has another special surprise for you too. They're bringing back The Haunted House Shuffle. This is a song and dance that was created in the '80s just for the Guild and our Haunted House. It's a classic! In This Week's WOW, watch footage from the original Haunted House Shuffle mixed with the new dance. I promise it will make you smile especially if you love the 80s!