While there are many great museums in Cleveland, if you’re exploring the city with kids there’s one you’ll be especially pleased to discover. “COSI” stands for the “Center for Science and Industry,” which might sound a bit dry, but in fact, this museum is known for its fun, hands-on, kid-friendly exhibits. Some of their programs include a tightrope unicycle visitors can ride, a very up-to-date dinosaur gallery, and rats who play basketball. COSI also offers special exhibitions, an IMAX theater, and a planetarium.
COSI has been in its current building in Franklinton since 1999, but it was founded in 1964, previously housed in historic Memorial Hall, and was one of the first museums to offer sleepover field trips. It’s considered a “center of science and industry” (as opposed to just a science museum) because of its partnerships with local organizations, such as radio station WOSU, which has a digital media center here, and Ohio State University, which has research labs here. One of the museum’s permanent exhibits, “Progress,” based on an exhibit from the old location, pays tribute to its history: it depicts an imaginary town in 1898 and 1962, comparing both technology and quality of life.
Most of the exhibits here are much more recent. The Dinosaur Gallery, which opened in 2017, features up-to-date artist renderings of dinosaurs as well as 100-million year-old feather trapped in amber, an 8-foot titanosaur femur, and a collection of dinosaur bone casts including a full-size Tyrannosaurus rex. COSI staff offer short presentations and demos throughout the day. Visitor favorites include a demonstration of behavioral conditioning starring two rats who have been trained to play basketball.
COSI is also known for spectacular special exhibitions which are not always science-themed. Recent shows have included “Mythic Creatures,” which featured large-scale art depicting imaginary creatures and the real creatures that may have inspired them. “Jim Henson: Imagination Unlimited” featured puppets and other artifacts from the film and television career of the legendary Muppets creator.
Cover image: marada, CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.