Hands-On Galleries

“This is a source of ideas to stimulate all ages to create and appreciate the facts and feelings of life.”

~ Alden B. Dow

Hall of Ideas

Three levels make up the fun, permanent interactive Hall of Ideas designed especially for toddlers through grade school students. This handicap-accessible space traces the spiraling evolution of civilization in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Advancing through each level, visitors learn about Michigan’s geological formation and early inhabitants, and explore the interconnection of science and art.

  • Create your own dramatic image with our interactive artwall, then email it to yourself, a grandparent or friend!
  • Work together to make an Alexander Calder-style mobile
  • Explore the Periodic Table of elements and create over 350 virtual “chemical reactions”
  • Merge science and art when you design and shoot off your own virtual fireworks
  • Sit down to the electronic keyboard, grab drumsticks or an electrical guitar for a musical jam session
  • Make music using light beams with our Beamz Player – No strings attached!
  • Become a singing sensation in our new Karaoke Studio, or use our Digital FX Station to shape the sound of your voice
  • Explore the art of architecture the Alden B. Dow way
  • Immerse yourself in a whole new selection of challenging and interactive green screen games
  • And lots more!

Electricity Exhibits

Mesmer tube-named after the famous 18th century French physician Franz Mesmer. Mesmer tubes are made of a custom premium glass formed in two pieces – one in the middle and the other clear piece spaced over the interior glass.

The space is filled with a special neon gas blend and designed to be powered by a special power supply that will control the electrical plasma effect to scroll around the display like a electrical storm. The plasma flow can be effected by ones touch and makes an awesome display.

Plasma tube-Inside the tube, a small Tesla Coil produces an alternating high voltage potential which attracts or repels free electrons. When the electrons collide with the gaseous atoms and molecules inside the tube, the gas particles are ionized creating even more electrons, as well as positive ions. A plasma is formed. When electrons return to the ionized gas, light is produced. Touching the tube with your finger provides a ground, an additional source of electrons. This creates the displays at your fingertips.

Hand-Crank Generator
You’ve got the power! Use the hand-crank to power the light bulbs.  The more energy that you generate, the more electrical power you create. Lighting more bulbs requires more electricity, which requires you to generate more power.  What happens when you switch the type of bulbs you’re powering?

Robotic Arm
Can you pick up and move the objects?  This arm is similar to the ones used by NASA during space expeditions. The arm can actually feel for obstacles using sensors.

Young Explorers Corner

This is a designated area for children ages 5 and under to inspire learning through exploration and hands-on play and develop cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills through hands-on, developmentally appropriate learning experiences that inspires lifelong learning.

Science on Stage Showings

Join us on Saturdays and Sundays for fun and interactive Science Stage Shows.

During our ‘Science of Sound’ show, we will investigate the role waves play in the creation of sound as we experiment with high versus low and loud versus soft sounds. Watch as we create waves, make music and more! During our ‘Magic of Electricity’ show, you will discover how electricity affects to world in all forms through electromagnets, static electricity and more. Demonstrations include the Van de Graff generator, a hair-raising experience!

*Show schedule varies, please see our daily show schedule during your visit to the museum. 

Saltwater Aquarium

Over 100 fish occupy our beautiful 450-gallon saltwater aquarium, delighting visitors of all ages. MCFTA and the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library have teamed up to research information about the tank and its inhabitants. Come discover facts about the fishes’ home regions, ecology, habitat, food, symbiotic relationships and more! Visit often, because our aquarium is an ever-changing learning experience!

Located near the Information Desk, the aquarium is free and open for public viewing during building hours.

Made possible through a generous donation from David and Patti Kepler of Midland.

Foucault Pendulum

While it had long been known that the Earth rotated, the introduction of the Foucault pendulum in 1851 was the first simple proof of the rotation in an easy-to-see experiment.

At Midland’s latitude of 43.6156 degrees, our Foucault Pendulum takes about a day and half to return to its original orientation.


Winner of the 2003 Muse Award, ViewSpace brings the wonders of celestial exploration to the Museum through recent photographs from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. See it in our Discovery Zone.

Purchased with funds from the Todd Gunkler Memorial Fund and with a grant from the Alden B. and Vada B. Dow Family Foundations, ViewSpace entices and mesmerizes visitors with beautiful, high resolution images, digital movies and animations, interpretive captions and evocative space music.

ViewSpace features:

Celestial Tours: featuring breathtaking Hubble photographs.

Hubble Update: providing the latest images and discoveries from the telescope as they are released.

Celestial Update: featuring news from the frontiers of astronomy with emphasis on the latest from the NASA Great Observatories.

Astronomy Picture of the Day: presenting a new “astronomically-themed” image each day with interpretive text.

Mars Exploration Rover Update: stay informed on the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Cassini-Huygens Update: reports from the Saturn orbiter and the Titan Entry Probe now en route to the ringed planet.

Skylines: beautifully illustrated introductions to the constellations, planets, deep sky objects and special astronomical events of the night sky updated monthly.

Science as Art: visualizations of astronomically inspired and informed poetry.

New programs are continually added by the Space Telescope Science Institute of Baltimore.