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Kids get in on the action with Children’s Museum’s ‘Bounce’ exhibit |
Art & Museums

Kids get in on the action with Children’s Museum’s ‘Bounce’ exhibit

| Thursday, October 16, 2014 8:56 p.m
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Darrell Jones Sr. plays with his son, Darrell Jr., 3, both of Jackson, Mich., at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's 'Bounce' exhibit on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Trib Total Media
Austyn Dunn, 1, of Morgantown, W.Va., plays at one of the exhibits at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh's 'Bounce' exhibit on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

Jason Bell’s little daughter, Nesta, eyes the colorful bouncing balls curiously as she toddles through the new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

“It was awesome,” says Bell, whose daughter turns 2 on Oct. 26. “This place is great.”

“Bounce: Inspired by the World’s Most Amazing Ball” — a new, original exhibit that will stay for five months — offers numerous interactive features where kids can check out actual Superballs and play with bigger and smaller bouncing balls. The exhibit includes stations with wood structures, where kids can drop balls and see how they move and where they land.

At Ball Wave, the pull of a lever releases several green balls strung on poles, so they all start bouncing and form a wave. In the Free Play Room topped by netting, kids can throw 3-inch-diameter rubber balls and see how high they bounce. A lever-operated Ball Trampoline tosses miniature balls inside a glass case, like popping corn. Along one wall, a screen will reflect the track of a green ball when a visitor throws it. Goggles and helmets are available for safety from flying balls.

“Bounce” results from a collaboration between the North Side museum and artist Henry J. Simonds, a Squirrel Hill native who now lives in New York City. Simonds, 39, a filmmaker, collected many things as a kid, including dozens of Superballs, which bounced into the world in 1965. The little balls, which sold 6 million their first year on the market, became popular for their high bouncing ability, according Wham-O.

A few years ago, Simonds began organizing and classifying his collection of about 70 balls, and “it became a fun little creative pseudoscientific practice.” He wanted to make art out of it, and when he connected with the museum, “Bounce” resulted. The exhibit includes some of Simonds’ high-res photographs of Superballs, and a giant chandelier he helped to create, with some 500 dangling Superballs.

Simonds’ art made the perfect complement to the museum’s exhibit-creating talent, spokesman Bill Schlageter says. “Bounce” has an open-ended atmosphere where kids can set their imaginations free.

“We’re in the museum business to create an interactive experience for kids,” he says.

“Frankly, I think balls are probably the most popular kids’ toy there is,” says Anne Fullenkamp, associate director of museum experience. “How can you go wrong?”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.

Categories: Museums
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