Monday, January 7, 2013

The Michigan Science Center in Detroit

Last year, the Detroit Science Center, one of the 10 largest such museums in America according to Wikipedia, closed its doors due to lack of funds. Just after Christmas, 2012, however, the Science Center reopened as the Michigan Science Center after being purchased by a nonprofit organization. The building is pretty large with lots of hands-on exhibits. Greg and I decided to check it out on Sunday. 

When you first walk in, there's an exhibit on diabetes. It includes a refrigerator that raps a song about eating healthy when you open it. Not the most impressive exhibit, but the kids around us seemed to have fun with it. Across from that is an exhibit about an auto assembly line. Very Detroit.

There is another exhibit about construction with a walkable model of the Mackinac Bridge, and another exhibit just across the way of a 100 foot model replica of the Bridge that is really quite impressive. I tried to take a picture of the full length, but it was just too long.

On one side of the bridge exhibits is another exhibit about eating healthy, including a creepy couch with two giant potato creatures watching television. Naturally, Greg had to have his picture taken with them. It reminded me of this horrible children's book called Bud the Spud by Adam Byrn Tritt in which a child turns into a potato after watching too much television and is eaten by his family. Greg pointed out that within site of this couch was the food court, serving just the types of foods the exhibit warned against.

Anyway, there's also a NASA section that is not entirely functional yet. A lot of features of the various exhibits aren't fully operational, like the whack-a-mole junk food game that only put up one hot dog to whack, but we saw guys going around working on them, and we both felt pretty interested in what would be going into all the empty space that was under construction. We also thought we check out the IMAX theater another time.

We spent 2 to 3 hours there, so money well spent, I think. Their hours are kind of funky right now, mostly open on weekends. It wasn't very crowded on Sunday, so I wouldn't worry about fighting with crowds. Practically next door is the Detroit Institute of Arts, and across the street from that is the Detroit Historical Museum. If you're interested in a unique lunch experience, check out Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes just half a block away from the DIA. I highly recommend the hot Nutella. Beats the pants off hot cocoa any day.


  1. When I visited the Detroit Science Center (in February 2010), I wrote this about it:

    > I liked it overall, though parts of it kind of got on my nerves; for example, large swaths of it proudly displayed which major corporation had sponsored them, even though we could have guessed it anyway from the text. (The section that glorified the steel-making industry was paid for by a steel company, the section about all the new pharmaceutical breakthroughs in heart health was paid for by Pfizer, and so on.) The major exception was the section where we played whack-a-mole to simulate whacking fats and sweets from our diet; that part seemed to be unpaid propaganda. Or maybe the sponsor paid to have their name not displayed. *cue creepy 1984 music* And even aside from the propaganda, whoever designed the museum seemed to believe that everything had to be interactive, whether or not the interaction really contributed to an understanding of what was going on. Indeed, in a few cases the interactive component seemed to interfere with the core functionality of the exhibit, though the more common case was that it simply no bore relation to it. And [the friend I went with] got a bit impatient with my slow reading, so it would have been nice if the museum had had some chill pills for her. ;-)

    It sounds like it hasn't changed very much since then!

    1. Probably not. The DTE electricity magic show was pretty awesome. It reminded me of sideshows from way back when electricity was new. ;) And I agree about the widespread interaction. I guess that's how kids learn best? (Or that's how adults think kids learn best.)