Feed your Brain at The Mind Museum

A museum, for you, evokes what kind of images and what kind of emotions? Allow us to start off with the following guesses. A museum is a place where really old artifacts are kept and displayed. It’s a place where you can only view these artifacts, cordoned or sealed for protection, from a distance. It’s a boring place, except to those who have a deep love for the subject (or pretend to do so). These things may true of other museums, but definitely not The Mind Museum.

We’ve long wanted to visit The Mind Museum since it opened to the public in early 2011. The Museo Pambata in Manila City and the Science Discovery Center in Pasay City also hold fun science displays and interactive installations for kids, but The Mind Museum, with over 250 interactive exhibits, rightfully refers to itself as the “first science museum of its scale and scope in the Philippines.” It’s a place where guests, kids and adults alike, could use and interact the exhibits. It’s a place that seeks to enhance the love for science, at least for those who already love the subject matter, or encourage others to explore science.

That’s what we’ve heard and read. But we all know that there’s a big difference between reading about something and actually experiencing it. Just like, for instance, reading this blog entry. We would be the first to admit that this is grossly insufficient to describe what we’ve seen, touched and experienced in The Mind Museum.

So one fine Sunday afternoon, seeking a respite from all the mall walks, we hauled ourselves to see this world-class science museum with our own eyes.

Getting to The Mind Museum was the least of our concern. Found at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), which straddles the cities of Makati and Taguig, The Mind Museum stands at the JY Campos Park, 3rd Avenue, at the Taguig side. We were fortunate enough to be acquainted with BGC even before those skyscrapers were built, and continue to be built, in this emerging global hub. Just look for 3rd avenue and ask, if you must. There’s a drop off area right in front of the museum, with ample parking at the adjacent lot.

The first concern when going to The Mind Museum should be reservations.

Sure, we could have taken our chances and simply drop by. But what sets The Mind Museum apart is its intent to allow its guests enough time to roam around free of overcrowding. That means to things. One, there’s a maximum number of guests allowed inside at any given time. Two, there are limited time slots per day.

The museum is closed on Mondays. It has three time slots on other days, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m., and from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There’s an additional time slot, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sure, there’s an all-day pass, which means that you can enter any time you want, with no 3-hour limit. But that’s worth P750. That would be quite expensive if you’re in a huge group. The usual rate for the regular 3-hour time slots is P600 for adults, P450 for all students and children (children below 2 feet are free of charge), and P150 for all public school students (and all teachers, whether private or public).

We arrived at the BGC for our 3-6 time slot around 2 hours earlier. The extra time was not a problem. The biggest, multi-story outlet of Fully Booked is just around the corner, right in Bonifacio High Street (which boasts of numerous restaurants and food establishments, including Abe, Mamou and Cupcakes by Sonja).

Or if you don’t want to stray “far” from the location while waiting for your designated time slot, there’s a Jollibee fastfood restaurant right beside the ticket counter of The Mind Museum. You can take your time chewing your food while looking through the glass walls, watching your kids play at the outdoor kids’ playground, the Science-in-the Park.

No problem with kids getting bored while waiting. The external playground consists of four main pockets: Water, Math, Music, and Living. The Math Pocket, for instance, consists of the Brachistocrone Slines, the Fulcrum and Mobius Wall Climber. Somewhere else sits the fun Gumamela Flute. Kids are free to interact with bubbles and squirt guns, hang on to a reverse see-saw called A Weird Balance, look through the eyes of various creatures like the Philippine Eagle and the dragonfly, bang on the gigantic drums.

It’s more likely that kids would be too preoccupied playing (and learning without “knowing” it) and won’t be badgering you when they could go in the museum. There’s so much things to do while waiting. If there’s any concern, it’s more of conserving the kids’ energy for the 3-hour interactive tour inside The Mind Museum.

Items of interest are everywhere, even at the entrance of The Mind Museum. On display is the very first automobile to roll on Philippine roads, the 1904 Richard Brasier Roadster. At the center of the entrance serenely sits the talking robot, Aedi, greetings guests coming in. And, no, you can’t order food through this robot. I tried asking for burger and fries. No luck.

We were unsure where to start the “tour.” No smiling humans or humanoids is there to point you where to any trail. It’s a walk of discovery, although the exhibits sort of “lead” you. Not that you’d check the displays right away upon entering the premises. You’ll spend a second or two to marvel at the high ceiling and the huge interiors, and, pehaps say, “wow, this is some serious museum.”

Unless you’ve read this blog entry or other articles written about this museum, you would have no idea that there are five main galleries (atom, earth, life, universe, and technology), interconnected by three corridors: the Lightbridge (connects the Universe and Atom galleries), the Tunnelcraft (connects the Universe and Earth galleries, with imagery from the Hubble telescope), and the Inner-Space Track (connects the Atom and Life galleries). Sounds amazing, doesn’t it. Only after we walked through the entire museum did we realize that the exhibits are grouped into galleries. Which was a good thing, looking back.

We went to The Mind Museum without any game plan on where to start or where to end the tour. We just wandered where our eyes and interest would lead us, although we had a vague idea on the three items or displays that we had to see during the entire 3-hour tour. First is the dinosaur fossil display. The towering Tyrannosaurus rex or T-Rex is displayed in its full glory, complete with its fossilized dyno poop. Now, if there’s a trivia game that asks for a question, or you simply want to impress your friends with your geekness, try asking them what’s the name of a fossilized dinosaur poop. Coprolite. Never thought that a poop could sound so dignified. Just one of the interesting facts you’ll discover (or re-discover, but in a cool way).

Second is the planetarium (at the Universe gallery), sealed when the show starts at a designated time. Third is the 3D film showing, featuring the Filipino-made 3D documentary the Birthplace: A Natural History of the Earth. You might have noticed that ABS-CBN recently showed (now sure whether it was in Channel 2 or Studio 23) how the short film, directed by Chito S. Roño, was made by a Filipino crew. We prioritized watching these shows because the other displays are just there, available whenever we please.

Ok, here’s how our tour went. We breezed through the Life gallery and stayed for a while at the gallery featuring the story of the Universe (a showcase of “humankind’s wondrous fascination with outer space”). Next came the Earth gallery (with the T-Rex and other displays showing natural history), then the Atom gallery, which holds he most number of interactive displays. And finally, the Technology gallery, housed at the entire second floor, composed of the following nodes containing more interactive displays: How We Live, Who We Are, How We Know, How Things Work, and Here to There.

You’ll need more than 3 hours to fully interact with all the displays, but it’s enough to enjoy the entire place. The museum is a place to supplement what kids learn in school. It’s a place to spark their interest in science and technology, if it’s not yet there. It’s also a place where many “boring” scientific concepts come alive, experienced first-hand by guests, young and old alike. Science indeed comes alive at The Mind Museum.

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