Don't be surprised to hear someone ask if there's a doctor in the house at Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum.
When the new museum opens this spring, children will don lab coats, visit teddy bear patients in examination rooms and use pretend medicine bottles, syringes, thermometers and stethoscopes in a hands-on "Learning, Caring, Healing" exhibit.
The third-floor exhibit, sponsored by Oishei Children's Hospital, is one of several intended to create immersive experiences for young people.
“Our main goal is to create familiarity with medical and scientific terms and environments to help children understand what happens there in a fun and engaging way – through play,” said Michelle Urbanczyk, the museum's chief executive officer.
The exhibit will have a hospital side and a lab side designed after spaces inside Oishei Children's Hospital, and which the sponsors hope will help make hospitals seem like a less scary place.
Children will be able to give teddy bear patients an X-ray or MRI using kid-sized versions of the equipment, which will light up and make sounds like the original.
They will learn to practice good hand hygiene by washing their hands in a pretend sink, and send samples back and forth from the exam room to the lab using a pneumatic tube system.
Video microscopes, test tubes, flasks and other lab equipment will also stir their imaginations.
Urbancyzk thanked Kaleida Health, Oishei Children's Hospital, Children's Hospital of Buffalo Foundation and Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. for their efforts "in working together to create this thoughtfully produced exhibit that children are going to love."
Other exhibits coming to the four-story, 43,000-square-foot building — now an active construction zone — include "Moving Water," which teaches children about how water generates electricity from a two-story waterfall; "Tinkering Tank," where kids get to build things using real tools; and "Lighting Buffalo's Imagination," which teaches children to make electricity using bikes and hand cranks while introducing them to inventors and innovators from Western New York.
Also coming are "Playing Together," which encourages different forms of movement in a mini-Memorial Auditorium; "Being Good Neighbors," which introduces immigrant cultures found in Buffalo; and "Farm to Fork," which provides exposure to locally grown foods and implements found on farms.
A demonstration kitchen, an arts studio and a green-designed rooftop garden are also part of the activities mix coming to Explore & More.
The exhibits are being engineered by Gyroscope of Oakland, Calif., to be accessible to children with sensory, mobility, learning and other disabilities. The exhibits are being fabricated by Art Guild of West Deptford, N.J., and will include graphics by Johnson/Hehr Associates of Buffalo.