At the Chicago Children's Museum's newest exhibit Circus Zirkus, your kids don't just get to see a circus -- they can actually perform in the circus. At this one-of-a-kind exhibit, kids get a hands-on, interactive take on what it would be like to be a real circus performer.
In the backstage area, aspiring circus performers can practice tumbling, juggling and balancing skills, create a circus poster, swing on the Flying Trapeze or take a twirl on the Spinning Hoop. Whew!
The equally bustling performance area features Tricky Plates, Twirling Balls plus the opportunity to don costumes and entertain the crowd as a wacky clown. Or skip the main stage and sell hot dogs and ice cream, staff the ticket booth and cheer from the bleachers. This space is overflowing with super cool props (including my favorite -- fake 500 pound dumbbells so you can be the world's "strongest" man) and apparel for hours of imaginative play.
I visited this exhibit with my three year-old son last week and we both had a blast. I was most impressed by two things. First, this is really a one-of-a-kind exhibit. So many of the cool props and activities were custom-made specifically for this experience. And the things that aren't custom-made come from vendors who supply actual circus performers. This stuff is the real deal. I was also impressed with the ways that the creators of the exhibit drew from real, local circus performing groups as their inspiration.
Second, this exhibit really appeals to all ages. My three year-old was way too timid to give the Flying Trapeze a try, but he loved walking the "tight rope" that was a whopping three inches off of the ground and pushing the ice cream cart around hawking treats to anyone who would listen. Older kids were having a blast with the more physically challenging parts of the exhibit. I even saw a dad wait in line for a turn at the Spinning Hoop (and I thought to myself, "Dude, what are you doing?"). Anyway, my point is that the exhibit has something for circus enthusiasts of all ages.
Circus Zirkus: Where you are the star of the show is free with museum admission. The exhibit runs through August 12th so you've got plenty o' time to check it out -- but definitely put it on your "to do" list.