The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum.

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

You never forget your first visit to the Children’s Museum. As a child, I remember being absolutely entranced the first time I visited, admiring all of the amazing exhibits. Now, I get to see that same expression on my two boys’ faces as they walk in—small and bouncing with excitement. 

Their eyes are filled with wonder from the moment we enter the Sunburst Atrium. The entrance is bright and colorful with towering windows. The 30-foot-tall water clock bubbles like a science laboratory. And a massive dinosaur head leans through the window, peering in at the tableau below. 

It’s an awe-inspiring experience, especially for the little ones as they crane their necks to take it all in. And, of course, that’s only just the beginning.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has five floors of exhibits and galleries—from historic recreations to STEM-based experiences. The museum makes learning interactive and fun for the whole family, keeping you entertained while your kids make lasting memories. With activities for all ages, the museum offers an unforgettable adventure for your children to explore!

“[The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis] strives to provide fun and imaginative exhibits that appeal to all, from children to grandparents.”

–Dr. Jeffrey Patchen, President and CEO of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The museum hosts historic exhibits and artifacts.

Founded in 1925, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is consistently ranked as one of the top children’s museums in the United States. With a 482,950 square-foot facility on about 30 acres of land, it’s the largest children’s museum in the world and draws over a million visitors each year.

Over the years, the museum has hosted a diverse variety of exhibits to engage every child who comes to visit. In addition to its more permanent galleries, the museum curates temporary features and welcomes international traveling exhibits. 

In 2009, the Children’s Museum hosted the traveling exhibit Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, which featured more than 100 artifacts from tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Then in 2014, they welcomed Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army, the only U.S. appearance of China’s life-size warriors.

And the centerpiece of the museum is a permanent glass sculpture, one of the largest of its kind. Artist Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass sculpture is a 43-foot tower of blown glass, featuring over 3,200 unique pieces. So, you can learn about glassblowing while admiring the installation from below, looking up at a brilliant glass ceiling.

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

The Children’s Museum offers a one-of-a-kind museum experience.

Whatever your child is interested in, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has a unique educational experience for them!

Explore science with hands-on activities.

Is your kid a science explorer? Feed their curiosity at ScienceWorks. This interactive exhibit immerses you in research from real scientists like hydrologists, naturalists, and geologists. So, your hands-on kids can create a weather forecast, engineer a water system, and touch minerals in the Geology Lab.

Meanwhile, the Dinosphere transports you back in time to the land of the dinosaurs! You can roam the Jurassic landscape and see one of the largest displays of juvenile dinosaur fossils in the world. While you’re there, your kids can dig for fossils, touch a T. rex bone, and watch scientists at work in the Jurassic Paleo Labs. Just watch out! You may come face-to-face with a full-size dinosaur skeleton!

Learn about history through interactive exhibits.

History may be boring in the classroom, but it’s not at the Children’s Museum! The Power of Children captures the voices of three young heroes who fought against discrimination: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White. The exhibit teaches your kids all about their lives and then shows how they can take action and help make a difference, too!

Then, you can travel all across the world with the National Geographic Treasures of the Earth exhibit. It immerses you in history, with an ancient Egyptian tomb, the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors, and Captain Kidd’s shipwreck. You can explore these site recreations and then visit the lab to watch real archaeologists work on the museum’s artifacts!

And once you’ve studied your world history, you can head back home to Indiana. All Aboard! takes you back to the 1890s, when the 35-foot-long Reuben Wells train was the most powerful locomotive in the world. In this exhibit, you can walk inside a train car, watch intricate miniature trains, and even design your own railroad!

Get your kids outside and active.

Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience is a recent outdoor addition to the museum. The exhibit opened in 2018 with over a dozen sports activities—from mini-golf, to drag racing, to basketball, to football. This is a wonderful opportunity for children to be active, get exercise, and try out many different sports all in one venue. During our last visit, my boys even tried their Buzzer Beater Challenge, living the March Madness hype!

If the weather won’t allow for outside play, your family can still visit The National Art Museum of Sport and The World of Sport exhibit. There, you can learn about sports legends, practice their moves, and pretend to be a sportscaster. And if your kids need a break to just let loose, they can take a ride on the Carousel or run around the Playscape, a sensory play space for your toddler to explore art, music, and athletics.

The museum also fosters a community of learning.

Beyond its exhibits, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is also dedicated to giving back to the local neighborhoods and providing programs to support the community. All residents in the surrounding neighborhoods receive free membership, and their Access Pass offers reduced prices for low-income Indiana families. Families in the nearby neighborhoods can also receive academic support to help children learn and develop college and career readiness.

To foster a continued love of learning, the Children’s Museum partnered with the Indianapolis Public Library to establish infoZone in 2000. Today, infoZone remains the nation’s only public library branch inside of a museum, providing free library services to the neighborhood’s children even when the museum isn’t open. With over 15,000 books, videos, and other materials, infoZone provides a space for children to practice reading skills and access information from websites and databases.

The Children’s Museum is fun for the whole family.

What sets the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis apart from so many other places is that it’s truly designed to bring your family together. While kids are given the freedom to explore and discover the world in a way that’s made uniquely for them, you are there learning, growing, and making memories right alongside them. With a wide variety of different interactive and sensory activities throughout the museum, you and your kids will never get bored. 

How can I plan my visit to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis?

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is located on the northside of downtown Indy. Visitors can use public transport or take advantage of the plentiful on-site parking. You’ll know you made it when you see the dinosaurs bursting out of the building!

You can plan ahead and book your tickets online or over the phone, saving your family money by ordering before you visit. But visitors are always welcome to purchase admission on the day of your visit. General Admission includes access to the museum as well as the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience when it’s in season.

Remember that admission is free for children under 2-years-old, and keep an eye out for special free and discounted admission days throughout the year!