Columbus, Ohio

Sam and I made a long weekend for ourselves and took a trip to Columbus. You could divide our trip into three categories: wandering Short North, eating at Bonifacio and shopping at Chuchay’s on a tip from the waiter, and visiting local public attractions. This post is concerned with that last prong. We went to COSI, CMOA, and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

COSI was a bit of spontaneity on my part, after I saw that there was a dinosaur exhibit in town. It appears to be a traveling exhibition on loan from the American Museum of Natural History. I thought the selection was fantastic, and it proved to be an exhibit for all ages. They had great content to engage children, including little interactive screens and games, looping videos, light-up fossil trackways, a life-size environmental diorama, and even an expert (or otherwise well-trained speaker) answering questions for kids in part of the exhibit. This dinosaur exhibit alone, which was good-sized and quite densely packed with information and displays, would be big enough to occupy an entire visit to COSI for at least a couple hours (it’s actually all we did there), and it seems like it would be great for families with kids who love dinosaurs or science more generally.

I was also impressed by the very contemporary research on display there, some of it seeming fairly cutting edge. Sam and I were really interested to learn more about how biomechanics and computer modeling were being applied to determine what dinosaurs could actually do. There were also many exhibits that explored current theories (and the fossil support) for things like nesting and egg-laying, brain development and composition, feathers and flight development, and even what makes birds uniquely birds. There were lots of excellent fossils exhibiting many of the above features, especially of feathered dinosaurs and early birds. There were also many skulls, especially of ceratopsians, and a few large full reconstructions, including of Tyrannosaurus, Stegosaurus, and a wire-frame Apatosaurus modeled off a simulated skeleton used for biomechanics research. A small selection of my photos from the exhibit follows:

I took many photos at the Columbus Museum of Art, but most were awful, and even decent photos just don’t adequately capture a painting (and frankly I don’t think it’d be super-appropriate to post even high-quality images of a collection without permission; I suspect the fair-use argument there would be fairly weak). There were a lot of interactive prompts at the museum, including stations encouraging people to leave their thoughts or to do something creative, and many of the descriptive plaques next to the artwork actively encouraged reflection on the part of the viewer. It was a smaller collection, but it also felt like an art museum that could engage with anyone regardless of their age, education, or exposure to art.

Just a tiny segment of a massive Lego city inspired by Columbus, one of the larger displays at CMOA.

On the last day in Columbus, we went to the zoo. It felt like it was a little larger than the Indy Zoo, and we saw some animals here we’d never seen before. I thought the number of primates, including great apes, was pretty impressive in particular, though hardly the only thing of interest. Some of the exhibits were still closed because of the cold, including sections devoted to African and Australian animals, and many of the North American animals were absent (which seemed odd to me, since many of the absent ones were specifically adapted for living in Midwestern winters). I took a lot of pictures from the zoo, as usual–and I mean a lot. While I’ve trimmed down which photos to share here, there are still quite a few below, beginning with a series of one-offs, then some additional groups focused on specific animals.

A few wide shots:


Birds, mostly:


Reptiles and amphibians:

The silvered langur:

The bonobo:

The Amur tiger:

The polar bear:

Mixed messaging about kangaroos:


Various sculptures/monuments:

I also saw a blue jay in the empty bison exhibit, and that awful-quality picture is included below.


And that’s it! The trip was fun, and we’re glad to be home again.

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