My last trip to the Maryland Science Center was a disaster, but with two newly opened exhibits and a special collection of IMAX films just for this polar themed weekend, I figured why not?
I arrived at the museum at 11:08am (though my ticket still said “10:00AM”), and headed immediately to find that Polarpalooza thing. It wasn’t open yet so I headed across the hallway into the now completed exhibit they were building during my last visit.
It was called “Cells: The Universe Inside Us,” and I nearly missed the entrance to it as it was hidden behind a sign for “Wet Lab\Body Link.” Cells it turns out is a dark, busy and frenetic jumble of videos, physical activities and other loosely organized “interactives.” The exit was marked by a set of inspirational banners showing various JHU doctors coupled with generic science quotes.
I stop by the café for a brief and surprisingly pleasant lunch, and then the museum announced they were opening their Polarpalooza area. The hallway leading from the stairs to the Legg Mason Gallery was lined with standard issue classroom posters about geology, climate and Antarctic geography; there was also a small collection of artwork created by children living in polar regions, a demonstration of ice cores and tourist information on Norway (!).
Inside the gallery space was a collection of tables representing various groups either studying the Antarctic (NASA, USGS and the University of Delaware) or providing supplies to those that do (such as the inflatable thermal tent against the north wall). There were also two human representatives from the newly reopened Maryland Zoo who had photos of penguins, a sample of polar bear fur and a mini activity guide to the zoo (“Can you name something that rhymes with fox?”).
It was shortly before 1pm, and it was time to see the main attraction of the day: “AntARcTica: Collected Images from the Bottom of the World.” The exhibit is staged in the so-called “Science Arcade” on the third floor, and many of the interactives normally housed there have been moved to the hallway outside the Legg Mason Gallery *.
The walls were painted cobalt blue and florescent yellow with color artwork\photographs on the blue walls and B&W pictures\videos on the yellow walls. Two large glass sculptures stood in the center of the gallery space (great idea for a museum aimed at 4-6yr olds). A lone bookshelf stood against the far-east wall presumably to represent the much hyped “literature” portion of this exhibit.
A voice comes over the PA system with two announcements: 1) the Polarpalooza was still going on, and 2) the next IMAX show would be beginning in 10 minutes.
The film called simply Antarctica was exceptional, the crying baby 12 seats over wasn’t.
Mission accomplished, and it was only 2:08pm.
* But since Polarpalooza was held there during my visit said interactives were relegated to wherever the museum had a spare foot or two.