Before I decided to get a degree in journalism and public relations, I entertained the idea of being a high school history teacher. (I scuttled that idea when my mom said those jobs always go to the football coaches.) So when I was offered a chance to visit the new “Treasures of the Earth” exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, I accepted right away.
The Museum’s newest permanent exhibit is the result of a collaboration with National Geographic. The exhibit is divided into three sections, each exploring a different archaeologic mystery. You’ll get your first taste of the exhibit if you step into the Level 1 overlook. This is really just a teaser for what you’ll find downstairs. Once you’ve whet your appetite for discovery, board the Treasures Transport (a cleverly disguised elevator) where an introductory video plays before it takes you to the exhibit on the lower level.
One caveat: If you are not fond of close quarters or enclosed spaces, you might skip the Treasure Transport and take the ramp to the exhibit instead. Our transport was pretty full and by the time the video was over, I was plenty ready to head for the exit.
But however you get there — do not skip this exhibit. This is what awaits you:
The Tomb of Pharoah Seti I: The tomb is the longest, deepest and most complete tomb discovered in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. Activities in this area range from putting together the oversized, 3D puzzle pieces that make up the sarcophagus, to e-mailing a souvenir postcard to a friend, to viewing artifacts taken from the tomb — including a mummified cat and an embalmer’s hook, which was used to remove the brain of the deceased through his or her nose!
The Shipwreck of Captain Kidd: Some call him a pirate, others say he was just businessman. Whatever he was, Captain Kidd was notorious, though he didn’t seem to be proud of that fact. When he was tried for piracy, he left his ship, the Cara Merchant, off the Coast of the Dominican Republic and sailed home to England to defend himself. It’s thought that his crew took the treasures off the ship and sunk it with 26 cannons still on board. One of those cannons has been brought to the surface and is now under reconstruction in the WetLab that is part of the “Treasures of the Earth” exhibit.
The Terra Cotta Warriors: This is my favorite part of the exhibit. I’m not sure what intrigues me about the story of the warriors. I think it’s the mystery of uncovering thousands of terra cotta soldiers that had been buried underground for thousands of years. Visitors to the Children’s Museum’s exploration of the Terra Cotta Warriors mystery can work to re-assemble models of warriors that must have cracked over time, don safety goggles to dig for as yet unearthed soldiers, and let their imagination run wild while considering what color the warriors might have originally been painted.
As a parent, the home run of “Treasures of the Earth” is that it takes all the things my kids love about the Dinosphere and presents them in new explorations in this exhibit. Sound and lights in the Pharoah’s tomb. The wet lab where kids can talk directly with scientists doing real exploration. The digging for warriors. The other great thing is that there are costumed interpreters on hand to answer questions and interact with visitors.
My kids are at an age where we’ve thought it might be ok to let our Children’s Museum membership lapse. “Treasures of the Earth” got me to sign on for another year. It’s that good.