We recently visited the traveling exhibit called The Science Behind Pixar at The Henry Ford Museum for American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan. It will be open from October 14, 2017 thru March 18, 2018. It is presented by Meijer at this stop on the tour. My wife and I were able to attend during opening week and would like to share our thoughts with you! This is a 13,000 square foot exhibition touring two copies – one nationally, and one internationally. It was created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios.
First, one has to be aware that this is a science exhibit and not an art exhibition. While there are several pieces of artwork on display, along with five life-sized character statues (Mike and Sulley, Edna Mode, Buzz Lightyear, Wall-E, and Dory) that you can pose with, this is first and foremost a hands-on activity presentation. It starts with a 5-minute introductory video similar to the one from the DVD release of Pixar In a Box.
With over 40 workstations to choose from there was enough to keep anyone busy for hours! We spent over 3 hours playing around and didn’t fully explore every station. The staff said they recommend allowing just over one hour, but that most people simply walk through.
While there, two school groups came through representing ages from 10 to 16, none of which spent more than 20 minutes in the exhibit. What a lost opportunity for learning through exploration! We hoped that this was because the groups had to cover the entire museum and not just this one exhibit. However, educators need to know that this would be an ideal field trip opportunity to teach both math and science!
Each workstation focused on an aspect of computer animation with the purpose of highlighting the mathematical and scientific principles needed to achieve success. There were also many video stations where actual Pixar employees shared their appreciation for the complexities of the processes. Unfortunately, no Pixar employees were actually there in person!
Fun Fact: One museum employee told me that a life-sized Lightning McQueen was supposed to kick off the exhibit but his appearance was canceled due to a scheduling conflict. Pity!
Build a Robot? Don’t mind if I do!
As members of The Henry Ford, we only paid $5.00 US to attend. Non-member pricing is a bit steeper: Seniors pay $25.00 / Adults pay $27.00 / Youths pay $21.50 / Children two & under get in free. Parking is an extra $6.00 US for non-members. This would be an expensive outing if one wasn’t planning on making the most of it, as Museum admission was also necessary to access the exhibit. So again, if this isn’t your thing, just visit the gift shop. Of course there’s a gift shop at the exhibit exit! Pixar is Disney, after all.
All of the merchandise here is Pixar based with a few science toys thrown in for good measure. I picked up a great book on Pixar and plan to go back to pick up a few more items. You can visit the gift shop at any time with Museum admission. There were also some cool exclusive exhibit t-shirts:
The final thing that is awesome about having this exhibit visit The Henry Ford is that you can continue your The Science Behind Pixar experience by viewing a classic Pixar movie on a giant IMAX screen! Here are the movies being played with the dates for each:
- Monsters, Inc.: October 14 – November 4
- The Incredibles: November 5 – December 2 (I am so there for this one!)
- Toy Story: December 3 – January 20, 2018
- Cars: January 21 – February 17
- Wall-E: February 18 – March 18
General admission for Members is $8.50 US with everyone else paying $10.00 US. Which movie would you want to see?
I would highly recommend The Science Behind Pixar to anyone. However, I am glad I only had to pay the Membership admission price! At $54.00 US for a couple or a possible admission total of $97.00 US for a family of four (yikes!) this exhibit might just be too rich for most people. And remember, non-members still have to add $6.00 US for parking.
The exhibit has already appeared in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and St. Paul, and is now open in Edmonton (a Canadian stopover!) and in Dearborn. It is expected to last for ten years with limited tour availability beginning in 2021.
Fun Fact: In the outer lobby of the Museum, there was a fun photo-op for young and old alike:
I make one INCREDIBLE action figure!
Thanks for reading our review of The Science Behind Pixar! Hopefully your appetite has been whetted for some amazing fun with math and science. Have you attended this travelling exhibit in your State? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments section. If not, do you think you would attend? Which of the aspects of the exhibit would interest you the most? Learn more at: