A few days ago, I told Owen I would take him to the Maryland Science Center on his day off from school Friday. Then, not even three hours later, I received an invitation to attend an opening reception for a new exhibit there Thursday evening.
It had to be a sign. Of what, I wasn’t sure, but that didn’t even matter. I did know that we would be going to the reception to check out the new exhibit. After all, it wasn’t a school night since Owen had the next day off, and it sounded like something he would absolutely love: Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World. I’ve mentioned many a time how much my kids love the insect stuff (as recently as earlier this week when I posted about the Natural History Museum), so I knew this would be a treat for him.
What I didn’t realize is what a treat it would be for both of us. We’d never been to the Maryland Science Center before, so this was quite an introduction — the lobby filled with food stands offering tasty bites, a DJ playing pop music, the Dinosaur Mystery and TerraLink areas open to guests, and, best of all, a first-look at the brand new bug exhibit upstairs.
Harry’s Big Adventure is a multi-sensory experience that immerses visitors into the world of bugs through cool displays, fun games, and interactive experiences. It all starts at the entrance, which is tunnel with screens on the walls showing close-up videos of bugs and insects. That leads to a roomful of installations for guests to explore:
Water Habitat: Insects found in swamps and waterways are at home in the Water Habitat, where guests can become a part of the insects’ world through a half-sphere bubble underneath the aquatic environment.
Forest Habitat: Visitors can immerse themselves among the trees in the Forest Habitat, where they’ll meet ants, millipedes and termites.
Meadow Habitat: Virtual butterflies fly throughout the Meadow Habitat, landing on guests’ shoulders and fluttering away as they move and dance in front of a projection screen.
Croplands: Visitors can experience the sights and sounds of an insect swarm and learn more about why these swarms are so important for insects – and potentially threatening to humans.
Bug Art: Guests can express their creativity by building their own bugs, making a rubbing of insects found throughout the exhibit or drawing their favorite character from Harry’s Big Adventure.
House Habitat: Kids can don a Terminix hard hat for a pest inspection mission to find common home invaders, including bed bugs, roaches and rodents. Owen loved this one as he pretended to be an exterminator, walking around the house in a white coat, clip board in hand, marking off the problem bugs he found.
There were also opportunities to hold live insects, see how far you could spit a cricket (yup, I did it), watch roach races, and taste insect delicacies like chocolate “chirp” cookies served up by Bug Chef. And these weren’t exclusive to the reception; every weekend, the exhibit will come alive with all of these extras.
We will definitely be going back to visit the bugs again — and to explore the rest of the Center. If the few exhibits we saw were this good, we can’t wait to see what else we’ll find there.
If you plan to go:
– The Maryland Science Center is located at 601 Light Street at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
– It’s closed on Mondays, and hours vary by day and time of year, so check the schedule here.
– Admission is $14.95/adults, $11.95/ages 3-12, $13.95/seniors, and rates are slightly higher if you see an IMAX. If your family plans to make multiple visits in a year, you might consider a membership, as it pays for itself in just a couple of visits.
– Harry’s Big Adventure: My Bug World runs from February 4 through April 29. Additional experiences noted above will be available on weekends only.
– Beaker’s Cafe in on the premises for a bite to eat, but there are also plenty of restaurants nearby on the Inner Harbor.