FUN WITH KIDS
Head to the stairwell in the Visitors Center and look up to see Dale Chihuly’s 900-piece Chandelier and Persians. Both are worth the price of admission, which is free!
Watch free videos about Columbus, just ask any staff member, they’ll start them for you at any time.
Then, enjoy the beautiful gift shop with many toys and books for kids!
ARTIST – HENRY MOORE, 1969
Henry Moore was asked to design a sculpture of the library plaza on the suggestion of I.M. Pei, architect of the library. Pei thought that a work placed in the palza should serve as focal point as well as a counter-balance to the two modernist structures that surround it. It is the largest Henry Moore sculpture in America.
The site and size of the work encourages people to walk around and through it, as Moore intended, “As a young sculptor, I saw Stonehenge and ever since I’ve wanted to do work that could be walked through and around.”
The sculpture was a gift to the community from J. Irwin and Xenia Miller.
Photo by Gary Scroggins
THE INN AT IRWIN GARDENS
The gardens are currently undergoing renovations, but you can take a good look inside from the south side, on Fifth Street.
Built in 1864 by Joseph I. Irwin, Columbus banker and businessman, this Italianate home was renovated and expanded in 1910 to accommodate four generations of the Irwin family and several new chimneys, now a prominent feature of the house, were added.
The highlight of this two-acre property is the garden, a maze based on the Casa degli Innamorati in Pompeii. Several fountains and a long pool are the focal point of a lowered sunken garden. Wisteria vines on the terrace’s pergolas were planted in 1911 and continue to bloom in the spring.
This property played a dramatic role in the history of Columbus. Clessie Cummins served as chauffeur to the Irwin family – it was on this property that he began tinkering in the garage and developed an idea for a high-speed diesel engine. With the backing of W.G. Irwin, his ideas became the cornerstone of Cummins, Inc., now a Fortune 200 company. (The greenhouses on the north side replaced the family’s garage.)
W.G. Irwin’s great-nephew J. Irwin Miller, who was born and raised in this house, had the vision, along with his wife Xenia, that ultimately led to the collection of modern architecture in Columbus, Indiana.
Video – the fountains (1:00)
Video – The Inn featured on Savor Indiana (2:52)
CUMMINS HEADQUARTERS MUSEUM
Step inside the public lobby of Cummins global headquarters to view displays that tell the story of Cummins and its diesel engines with imaginative and creative displays.
The centerpiece of the museum is a large engine that has been disassembled into its four hundred parts and suspended by steel cables over a two-story space. The one-of-a-kind “Exploded Engine” installation is sure to make an impression – reviewer J.C. from California commented on Yelp, “It looks like an exploded drawing of the engine in three dimensions.”
You also can a diesel-powered 1930s Auburn Cord Duesenberg, a collection of restored engines, cranks and camshafts, hands-on displays of current engines, as well as a unique fifteen-foot tall tube that becomes a kind of 3D infograph, in that all of the materials (such as steel and aluminum and rubber) that can be found in a Cummins engine are represented proportionally, by the actual materials!
The museum is located in the public lobby of the corporate headquarters in downtown Columbus. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
There is no fee to enter the museum.
CUMMINS HEADQUARTERS PUBLIC PARK
Head just a half block north, up Jackson Street, and you’ll come across a beautiful public park area that is a special place to just relax and enjoy the setting – enjoy the pond and its fountains, the park benches, and the beautiful backdrops for that perfect family photo to commemorate your trip to Columbus, Indiana!
CHAOS I SCULPTURE
The kids will be impressed by this monstrous sculpture, made out of junk parts! It was created by famed Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, who used parts of local scrap metal salvage yards to come up with the elements he use in his wild creation.
When the previous Commons had to be replaced, Chaos was encased in a protective and temperature-controlled box, then the old Commons was demolished all around it, and the new Commons went back up, all around it!
CREATED BY TOM LUCKEY
Columbus’ largest piece of public art and jungle gym, S supported by five steel columns, and fifty interconnection, custom-designed plywood platform. The platforms are connected with six miles of coated stainless steel aircraft cable to provide additional support and a netting to create a safe climbing structure. Note the version of Dancing Cs and the city’s branding colors decorating the underneath of the plywood platforms.
Designed by Tom Luckey, a designer and architect, the piece was installed by his son, Spencer Luckey.
BIOGRAPHY, from the Luckeyclimbers.com website:
Thomas Walker Luckey, was an artist, sculptor and architect renowned for his one-of-a-kind climbing sculptures. A graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, Tom’s fascination with movement and his desire to create positive spaces inspired a diverse portfolio including merry go-rounds, a convertible staircase/slide, and the iconic “Luckey Climbers” that have delighted children and adults alike, in cities across America and the world.
Tom Luckey was a visionary, a creative genius, a legendary optimist, an exuberant showboat, and an infamous fun-maker. He was an avid collector of friends, regardless of age; all that mattered was whether you were willing to take a leap with him towards his ultimate goal: superlative joy. From simple carvings, he built up to larger projects including a little cottage on Martha’s Vineyard, which he built when he was 16.
Throughout his career, Tom welcomed challenges and was stimulated by obstacles. He embraced uncertainty in his art and adapted to unanticipated hurdles. In 2005, he suffered a tragic accident that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. This was a change in his life most would find impossible, but Tom was often heard to say that “falling on my head was the best thing that ever happened to me.” It was a brave statement that he somehow made believable with his remarkable wit and optimism. Indeed, his career took off and his social life flourished during the final chapters of his life, a testament to his remarkable talent and insatiable curiosity.
There are so many things for kids to discover at kidscommons :
ExploraHouse, home to the famous giant toilet, is a space to discover the ‘ins and outs’ of a house. Learn about light sources, visit the infrared kitchen, and climb through the chimney to the attic. Design your own city! Discover the innovation of architecture and urban design in Columbus while planning your community of the future. Investigate the science of optics and music with the Gateway Bridge Laser Harp! This unique harp and first of its kind in its style allows visitors of all ages to play music while ‘strumming’ invisible strings.
Try out the robotic arm, which is made to human proportions and allows kids to manipulate the mechanical shoulder, elbow, wrist, and fingers. Kids on the Move is home to interactive components that provide hands-on education regarding healthy choices we make about exercise and our diet. It is also home to the popular grocery store. Kids-At-Art brings out the creativity in kids of all ages through the use of recycled materials and various art media. Create a masterpiece to take home as a souvenir.
Stand inside the body bubble or try various shaped wands in the big tank. Can you make bubbles that aren’t round? The climbing wall is a seventeen-foot wall that replicates the front of the building and is designed for ages five through adult. Climbers must be 44 inches tall and have a signed parent/guardian release form. This exhibit has an additional $3.00 fee per climber and is subject to availability. Early Childhood Garden is full of the sights and sounds of Indiana wildlife, a child-size camper, and a hollow Sycamore tree—the perfect spot for an afternoon story or imaginary play.
Visitor-submitted video (5:38)
ZAHARAKOS OLD-FASHIONED ICE CREAM PARLOR
After the kids have burned off all that energy at the Commons playground, treat them at an ice cream parlor that’s been beautifully restored to its original 1900-style condition, including a working orchestrion and a museum of soda fountains and musical instruments. If there’s one must-see place in Columbus with kids, this is definitely it and it’s definitely a place you have to see to believe!
Best-of-Indiana video (2:05)