Inside HMNS Sugar Land: Why the Body Carnival exhibit is a sensory party you must attend

Just like all of our exhibits, there’s plenty to see. But a better question might be, “What is there to DO in Body Carnival?

This special exhibit is packed with lots of fun, interactive stations that give each visitor just a little bit of a challenge!

When you walk through the exhibit’s entrance, your vision, perception and balance come into play as soon as you see the “Wacky Wall.”  It’s easy to find since the entire wall is covered with narrow black and white vertical stripes. With a gentle tug, the wall swings side-to-side, and suddenly, you have to think about staying in balance! 

Lift one foot off the floor and see what happens, then switch and raise the other foot. Is it easy to go from one to the other? Is it hard? I’ve been in the exhibit many times and I hate to say it, but adults really do start to lose their balance as they get older. 

A few days ago I noticed a family in front of the “Wacky Wall.”  The kids were nearly hopping from foot to foot, laughing at how cool the wall looked. Behind them, the father was wobbling just standing in front of the wall while the mother couldn’t balance on her left foot. All of them were laughing like crazy! 

Obviously, each person has a different reaction based on their sense of balance and ability to process visual puzzles. Accept the challenge and see how you do.

Photo credit: ClassicMommy.com

Speaking of balance, there are several tests in this exhibit to check yours. 

A fun one for both kids and adults is “Walk the Plank.” First, you walk across a slightly raised 3-inch-wide bar, then a 1.5-inch-bar and finally a tight rope. Sound easy? If you can walk all three short planks slowly and stay on each one all the way to the end, you’ve got great balance! 

I didn’t have any trouble with this one, but the tight rope can be tricky, depending on your shoes. You can make things a little more interesting by adding a small wrist weight, from the nearby bin, to just one arm. Is it still as easy with one side of your body a bit heavier than the other? You’ll probably have to lean over farther to the opposite side or find another way to even the weight distribution. 

Photo credit: ClassicMommy.com

The “Dizzy Tunnel” and “Goofy Goggles” are two more stations that will keep you on your toes, so to speak, with more balance and visual acuity tests. Come give them all a try and see how well you do!

You can also experience how levers work in our bodies. Wait a minute: The human body has levers?  Aren’t those just for wheelbarrows and pulleys? 

At Body Carnival, you can check out how your elbows and shoulders serve as levers, making it easier to reach, pull and pick up items every day. Wheelbarrows and pulleys only magnify what the levers in your body already do! 

To see this in action, visit the “Hang Time” station and see how long you can hang with your hands about 12 inches apart. Can you make it 10 seconds or longer?  A chart on the station gives you an idea of how good your arm strength is in comparison to others your age. The real lesson comes when you switch your hands to the position 24 inches apart.  That moves the levers — your shoulders — farther apart, making them less efficient and your hang time shorter. 

I used to be the champ on the monkey bars in my much younger days — until I grew up and put on about 100 pounds. I figured I’d do miserably on this one, but I actually made it longer than average for my age group and it even made my creaky neck feel better (although I think that had more to do with me needing a good stretch than the lever effect). 

There are several additional stations in the exhibit about flexibility, arm span, joints and height. You can also explore the concept further with the levers and pulleys found nearby in the Discovery Works Hall.

On Thursdays, healthcare providers from Next Level Urgent Care stay in the exhibit to help explain the concepts in the exhibit to patrons and kids.

These are just a few examples of the fun things to both see and do in Body Carnival! Come explore all 14 stations and check out your physical abilities.  

I’m also looking forward to our Teddy Bear Clinic on August 14. Little ones are encouraged to bring in their favorite stuffed animal, don a lab coat and “assist” while their lovey gets a check-up — just in time for back to school. Check the website for details and come see the exhibit soon!

Are you a Fabergénius? Take this quiz and find out!

Are you an expert in enameling? An authority on artistry? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of all things Fabergé, and then learn more with a visit to our Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision exhibit!

Faberge egg

1. What “surprise” was inside the Imperial Egg created by Fabergé?
a.    Hen
b.    Elephant
c.    Clock pendant
d.    Picture frame

2. Carl Fabergé was:
a.    French
b.    German
c.    Russian
d.    British

3. Fabergé sold his items through:
a.    Retail stores in Russia
b.    Retail store in London
c.    By mail order
d.    All of the above

4. Where did Fabergé prefer to obtain his raw materials for his pieces?
a. China
b. France
c. Russia
d. South America

5. What do we call a Fabergé sold to deceive the buyer?
a. Fake
b. Fauxberge
c. Counterfeit
d. Phony

6. How many items did the Fabergé Company produce?
a. 150,000
b. Less than 1,000
c. 10,000
d. Approximately 1,000,000

7. Which of the following items did Fabergé make?
a. Obsidian Sea Lion
b. Gherkin (pickle) sent jar
c. Gum pot
d. All the above

8. What does the “Bonbonniére” mean?
a. Egg
b. Cigarette Holder
c. Candy Box
d. Scent Bottle

9. Which of the following techniques were used by Fabergé?
a. Cloisonné
b. Enameling
c. Guilloché
d. All of the above

10. Who of the follow did NOT produce items for the Fabergé Company?
a. Workmasters
b. Contracted Artists
c. Women
d. Cartier

11. Fabergé’s Flower Studies were important to Russians because…
a. It reminded them of their childhood
b. Russia was a major exporter of lilies
c. It reminded them of the spring to come
d. It had important herbal qualities

12. Which of the following did Fabergé NOT produce items for?
a. The Imperial (Romanov) Family
b. The Russian Military during World War I
c. The Forbes Family
d. The Nobel Family

13. Which modern toy represents Fabergé’s guilloché technique?
a. Etch-a-Sketch®
b. Lite Brite®
c. Spirograph ®
d. None of the above

14. On which holiday were the Imperial Eggs given to the Tsarina?
a. Christmas
b. Birthday
c. Thanksgiving
d.  Easter

15. Which of the following did Fabergé produce?
a. Circus Hippo
b. Swinging Parrot
c. Sea Lion on a Rock
d. All of the above

16. What does a Vesta Case hold?
a. Cigarettes
b. Matches
c. Headache tablets
d. Bullets

17. What was the purpose of the bell push?
a. To ring for a servant
b. To light the furnace
c. To announce your presence
d. None of the above

18. Which famous movie star is in one of the Fabergé picture frames at HMNS?
a. Lucille Ball
b. Michael Jackson
c. Bill Gates
d. Liz Taylor

19. Which of the follow Fabergé items could be found in an office?
a. Ruler
b. Pencil holder
c. Stamp holder
d. All of the above

20. Which of the following precious gems were used by Fabergé?
a. Diamonds
b. Sapphires
c. Rubies
d. All of the above

Are you a Fabergenius? Find out tomorrow when we post answers to today’s trivia!

Intergalactic planet hoppers land at HMNS Sugar Land with Zula Patrol: Mission Weather

Do the names Bula, Multo, Zeeter, Wizzy or Wigg mean anything to you? They will after a visit to HMNS Sugar Land’s latest exhibit, Zula Patrol: Mission Weather, which teaches kids aged from pre-kindergarten to the third grade and beyond all about Earth’s weather systems with hands-on, interactive activities.

Zula Patrol: Mission Weather opens at HMNS Sugar Land Feb. 8!

Starting this Friday, this band of intergalactic fact-gatherers (as they’re called) will teach visitors about weather phenomena like clouds, precipitation, wind and temperature.

Based on the popular educational television program of the same name, the Zula Patrol museum exhibition aims to promote an understanding of and an interest in science and astronomy with character-driven storytelling.

Zula Patrol: Mission Weather is on exhibit at HMNS Sugar Land until May 27. For tickets, click here.

Fabergé: A Brilliant Vision opens Friday — take a gander at some highlights here and hightail it to HMNS!

We can hear that sharp intake of breath from here. Believe us; we relate. The first time we saw the McFerrin Collection — an extension of the exhibit on display here in 2010 — it was hard to find the words.

When we were finally able to articulate ourselves, our utterances were monosyllabic: “Wow.”

Three-Compartment Vanity Case by Faberge, workmaster Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg c 1910.

Three-Compartment Vanity Case by Fabergé,
workmaster Henrik Wigstrom, St. Petersburg c 1910.

The McFerrin collection has expanded to include more than 350 objects, all on extended loan at HMNS and free for members.

Gold-Mounted Rose Diamond and Moonstone Brooch Faberge, workmaster Feodor Afanasiev, initials of Faberge, assay mark of St. Petersburg Moscow, c 1899 - 1908.
Gold-Mounted Rose Diamond and Moonstone Brooch Fabergé, workmaster Feodor Afanasiev, initials of Fabergé,
assay mark of St. Petersburg Moscow, c 1899 – 1908.

Some highlights include a picture frame that once belonged to Liz Taylor (she replaced the Tsar’s face with her own, dahling), a handwritten note from Fabergé to a customer, and unexpected artifacts from the House of Fabergé’s war effort, including a surgeon’s knife.

For more information, including ticket prices and related special events, click here.

Ice Crystal Pendant by Faberge, workmaster Albert Holmstrom, St. Petersburg c 1913. Ice Crystal Pendant by Fabergé, workmaster Albert Holmstrom, St. Petersburg c 1913.