TERRE HAUTE — Visitors to downtown Terre Haute Children’s Museum next summer will have the chance to defy gravity after the museum installs its biggest exhibit to date.
Lynn Hughes, museum executive director, said this week the museum will add a two-story rope course exhibit, with a zip line, near the current Tree House exhibit.
She said the rope course will allow children to navigate more than 20 obstacles, including a walking rope bridge, rolling log, horizontal net and zip line — while learning about the science behind it all.
“This exhibit is going to give kids the opportunity to do things and get hands-on with science,” Hughes said.
“It’s going to help the kids learn about balance. On the zip line, they’ll learn about motion, and throughout they’ll learn about physical science, health science, a wide variety of sciences that they’ll experience for themselves.”
Hughes said the rope course being indoors will offer the children’s museum: Most are outside and subject to the weather.
“This is such a huge thing for us as there’s nothing like it nearby,” Hughes said. “There’s one in Decatur that’s outside and there’s not one in Indianapolis as far as I know. There’s outdoor ones ... but there’s not one inside that’s nearby, so we’re really excited about it.”
D.J. Wasmer, president of the museum’s board of directors, said the idea was born out of a 2016 study conducted by an outside company that found some patrons of the museum longed for more active exhibits and experiences that engaged children as they grew older.
“The new ropes course and enhancements to our programming will allow us to do just that,” Wasmer said.
“These additions are key elements of our on-going strategy to improve the visitor experience for a wider range of museum patrons,” Wasmer said.
Wasmer also announced a $550,000 fundraising campaign to add the indoor ropes course and to make enhancements to the museum’s educational programming spaces.
The campaign has already raised $437,000 with gifts and pledges from the Hollie and Anna Oakley Foundation, the Charles Morgan Carraway and Joanne M. Carraway Foundation, and Fitness Solutions Inc.
Keith Carter, advisory committee member with the Carraway Foundation, said foundation trustees understand that kids learn from doing things and are excited to support that.
“We want to give kids the opportunity to walk on planks, defy gravity and actually provide children with the opportunity to learn vocational skills that they don’t have the opportunity to learn in other settings,” Carter said.
“This is not just a fun thing for the children we’re doing here. We are helping set the foundation for the next generation of the workforce in our community.”