Scouting the revamped Discovery Place Science museum—part 1

For our convention in April, we will be visiting the Discovery Place Science museum with several other service dog teams. The museum recently finished months of renovation, so Brad and I needed to go check it out to see what the changes are like and how best to visit it with a large group of service dogs.

The accessible entrance to the museum is on the third floor of the parking deck, and it’s not the main entrance. So when we entered, we were immediately in a small area designed as a workshop area for kids. Unfortunately we soon realized it was a field trip day for at least one school, and that area was PACKED! We tried to explore it, but there were about 50 kids running, screaming, and some even playing tag in one small area. One kid even ran straight into Brad’s tilted wheelchair footplate because the kid tagged someone then turned and started running quickly without looking where he was going. That kid’s shins are going to have some big bruises!

The good news is that this level of activity and, um, supervision is unusual.

We got only one picture of Felix and me behind some interesting looking metal pipes before moving on to a less crowded area!

We took the elevator down to the main level of the museum, which is the second level. There we entered an exhibit about buildings. They had lots of building blocks for kids to play with, and several interesting models of famous buildings made out of blocks. For a lot of our pictures this trip, Brad held a small colored light and had various semi-transparent reflective filters in front of his lens.

From there, we entered a hallway with several small interesting exhibits in it. They had a giant hamster wheel, which of course I had to try (it was very unsafe for me, so I only did it for a few seconds!), a human anatomy display with bones in it, a display of things humans secrete like poop (Felix sniffed it for me!), and an electrified model of neurons.

That hallway led to the main exhibit of the museum at this time, which is an exhibit on dogs! This exhibit just opened a few days earlier, and will still be up during our convention. I think we actually might have walked into the exit first? Not sure. Anyway, we were immediately confronted by a life-size statue of an Akita. Felix was a bit upset about this statue. He was really confused about why it looked like a dog but was just standing there and not communicating with him.

We spent quite a long time letting him sniff the statue and walk around it to try to figure out that it wasn’t actually a dog. This was Felix’s first time being around statues of animals really. He’s seen some statues before, but they were all giant and so not really recognizable to him. This was the first time he was around a statue that looked like something he was familiar with. Brad got lots of pictures of us walking around the Akita, Felix sniffing the Akita, etc. At first he started out in my lap, but eventually progressed to being on the floor next to the Akita.

As the exhibit progressed, there were several other life-size dog statues. We got video to show how Felix reacted with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th statues he saw. The second statue he was still quite wary. He gets a bit more comfortable with the 3rd. And by the 4th statue, he was able to heel right past the statue without a second thought. Below are the videos of that progression.

We spent a lot of time in the dog exhibit, so I’ll leave talking about the rest of it for tomorrow’s blog entry!

In the pictures and video, I am wearing a bright green dress, am in my wheelchair, and Felix is wearing his galaxy harness. Brad is using several shiny and reflective things in front of the lens on his camera to get special effects like reflections and interesting light points.

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