COSI is a Columbus classic destination. If you were a child in the 80s, you likely have fond memories of “the old COSI” on Broad Street: the Great Gravity Gizmo in the entry way, the animatronic presidents, the hard plastic seats in the planetarium, walking across the street to the first Wendy’s Restaurant (Wanna take a trip down memory lane? Check this out.… ) To enjoy “the new COSI”, you need to forget about the old one and enjoy it in it’s own right. With traveling exhibits, updated technology, and lots of hands on; COSI is a great cold day ‘get the kids out’ activity. Just make sure to bring your credit card.
With yet another day off school, we decided to go and check out the newly opened Sherlock Holmes Exhibit (officially “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes”.) Note, this special exhibit is an extra fee on top of the regular entrance fee.
I took four kids to this exhibit – ages 3, 6, 9, and 12.
You will receive a timed ticket to enter exhibit, so plan accordingly. We opted for the very next time slot so that we could go straight to the exhibit and go through it before the kids started to melt and so that I didn’t have to pull them out of something to get there on time. Upon entering the exhibit, you are told that there are no cameras/photography allowed, which is pretty standard for a traveling exhibit. Also, no cell phones. You are asked to step outside if you need to make/take a phone call/text. (You can handle it…it took us about 90 minutes to get through… just long enough that your texting fingers will get twitchy, but hang in there… remember It’s quality time with the kids.)
This exhibit is nicely broken up into a few different sections. You’ll learn about the history of the Sherlock stories, see some movie artifacts, explore early forensic techniques, and try to solve the mystery of a crime scene. You are each given a little notebook to track your progress through the exhibit and to participate in the different displays. There are several different stations where you stop and figure something out then mark the book with a stamp, punch, rubbing, or impression. And, like any good exhibit, there is a gift shop at the end.
The kids got a little bored with the museum style part of the exhibit in the first section. They aren’t much for reading placards and history, so we moved through this section a bit quicker than I would have liked. There was a good bit of information on why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote what he did.
The middle of the exhibit is much more hands on. There are a variety of stations where you will learn about various developments of the period (ballistics, cosmetics, Scotland Yard.) The 3-year old enjoyed stamping her book at each station. The older three seemed to give it some effort and hopefully learned something.
Eventually you come upon a crime scene. You are given different elements of the scene to observe and record in your notebook. Then you head off to different stations to learn and try to deduce what really happened. If you figure out all of the right answers you get a secret message at the end.
The three older kids seemed to really get into the process. They were able to figure out most of the stations with just a little direction from me. There is one chemistry station that none of them seemed to get (and, honestly, i found rather confusing and overwhelming). Several times I caught them talking to each other trying to work out what they think happened. The 3 year old had fun stamping her book with help from the big ones. This exhibit held my attention as well. You should note that Blood Spatter Analysis is one section of this. There are machines that spray colored water to show different blood spatter patterns so I didn’t find it to be graphic. There is also talk of someone getting shot and possibly murdered.
At the end there was a bit of a “that’s it?” feeling for the kids. There is a long narrative that explains what really happened and pulls everything together. This was too much reading for the kids and was written in the style of Sherlock Holmes, which they didn’t really understand.
We explored some of the other exhibits after lunch and made a full day of it. COSI has a new exhibit on Energy which is nicely done. More on it in a future post.
Tips We Learned:
- This exhibit took about 90 minutes for us to go through. This was a good chuck of our day at COSI and we didn’t have time to see some of the other exhibits we wanted to.
- Little kids won’t get too much out of this one, but there seems to be enough stamping of paper and pushing of buttons to keep them occupied.
- If you are sensitive to crime scenes, stab wounds, and blood (or if you wish to keep your kids away from these things), this exhibit may not be for you. Go with solo before hand to see it if you are concerned. My personal opinion was that it was handled well and scientifically.
- Use the lockers. Then you aren’t trying to carry your coats with you in the exhibit. It’s a $1 well spent. The lockers are plenty large enough. … and if need be serve as child care..kidding.
What It Cost:
One problem I have with COSI is that I find it to be too expensive. We don’t go all that often because of the cost. If you do go frequently a membership is well worth it. We had one for a couple of years and got COSI’d out. So now we just go once or twice a year.
Here is what we spent this trip:
- General Parking in the lot – $5 (take your parking ticket in with you to get it validated. The lot is a public parking lot and costs a bit more if you don’t pay for parking inside COSI.)
- 1 Adult – $25.95 (General exhibits are $17.95, Sherlock is another $8.)
- 4 Kids – $20.95 each (General exhibits are $12.95, Sherlock is another $8)
- 1 Locker – $1
- We packed our lunch to save there. There is a decent cafe onsite. – $0
- But I caved on snacks. There is a really cool machine that does frozen yogurt…for $5/each. - $20
I had a coupon for one free kid which saved us $12.95. So our total for 5 of us was $122.80. This is definitely on the high end for us for entertainment but it was a great day and worth the splurge.