New children's exhibits opening at three Pittsburgh museums

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Many say that Pittsburgh is a great place to be a kid — perhaps especially, starting this week, when three new museum attractions open, geared specifically to children.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History are opening new, permanent features for kids this week, all of which encourage play and discovery. They join the new permanent SpacePlace exhibit, which opened last fall at the Carnegie Science Center.


On April 27, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland are hosting “Play Day” to celebrate the new Lozziwurm structure outside the museums. A Lozziwurm, first created by a Swiss sculptor in the '70s, is a snakelike, colorful, twisting, tubular play structure, which' is available for free exploration and play during museum hours. At Play Day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., kids can enjoy the Lozziwurm along with ARTventures activities in the galleries, story time with storyteller Alison Babusci, puppet performances by puppeteer Tom Sarver and art-making. You also can check out the new Discovery Basecamp and meet the mascot Art Cat.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children teamed up with the museums to put on Play Day, which marks the first day the public will be invited to play on the Lozziwurm. Any kind of play is very important for kids, says Marilyn Russell, the art museum's curator of education.

“Play is a way of testing boundaries and exploring new ideas and developing one's imagination and learning to think creatively,” she says. “It allows kids to put together ideas ... (and think) creatively and imaginatively about the world.”

Admission is free on Play Day for kids age 12 and younger. Adults pay the usual $17.95, senior citizens pay $14.95 and students with ID pay $11.95.

Details: 412-622-3131 or


If you liked the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's original Waterplay exhibit, you may not recognize this all-new one — but museum officials say you'll love it.

“We completely gutted the old Waterplay and started from scratch,” says Anne Fillenkamp, associate director of museum experiences. “We really wanted to take the opportunity to get a new look and a fresh take on it. Now the water is in various places around the perimeter of the room.”

The new Waterplay, which opens April 27, includes nearly 20 hands-on components that present water through sights, sounds and concepts, in a 3,100-square-foot space on the third floor of the museum's Lantern building. You'll see water move via pump, circulation, rain, spray and freezing — and, yes, you will get wet. But most seasoned visitors know this and come dressed for the occasion. The museum provides aprons, rain jackets and umbrellas. The new Waterplay has a nonstick, grated floor, so the museum is not providing boots like it did for the old exhibit.

When the North Side museum first opened Waterplay, which came with the museum's expansion in 2004, officials were concerned about people getting wet, says Penny Lodge, director of museum experiences.

“We knew people would get wet, and we were nervous what the reaction would be from families,” Lodge says. “We realized that the people were coming prepared. They loved the Waterplay, and they wanted to immerse themselves in their activities.”

Don't worry, though; exploring Waterplay is not like going to a water park, where you get fully drenched.

“We certainly don't want to give the impression ... that it's like walking into a rainstorm,” Lodge says.

For opening weekend, check out a couple special activities. The “world's fastest ice sculptor,” Rich Bubin, will transform a block of ice into a giant water creature from 11 a.m. to noon April 27. Visitors can make liquid art using frozen watercolor icicles in the Studio from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 27 and 28.

Waterplay is included with general museum admission of $13, and $12 for ages 2 to 18 and senior citizens. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Details: 412-322-5058 or

Discovery Basecamp

At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, kids can explore the new Discovery Basecamp starting April 27. The 1,900-square-foot gallery offers hands-on, interactive learning opportunities with real and replicated science specimens, educational kits and observational tools.

Discovery Basecamp — located on the second floor, on the Lee B. Foster Overlook above the “Dinosaurs in Their Time” exhibit — includes the museum's educational loan collection. Visitors can explore skill-builder stations, visit visualization stations with magnifying glasses and microscopes, identify plant and animal specimens and more. Discovery Basecamp replaces the former Discovery Room that closed April 1.

The area will be available during regular museum hours — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, until 8 p.m. Thursdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is included with general admission of $17.95, $14.95 for age 65 and older, and $11.95 for ages 3 to 18 and students with ID.

Details: 412-622-3131 or

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

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