To say Boston loves its Pats would be an understatement. So it makes sense that the Museum of Science's newest exhibit would be an homage to the sport that this town obsesses over for at least half the year. On Sunday, "Gridiron Glory," considered the biggest exhibit about American football ever created, opened at the MOS, and my three boys and I got an early peek. Even if you or your kids aren't football fanatics, read on: There are plenty of interesting scientific and interactive elements—physics! computer stations! a broad jump area!—to keep most any visitor intrigued. And don't miss these other kid-friendly fall and winter museum exhibits...there's something for everyone in our lineup.
Yes, there is a lot of science that goes into a football game. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Science, Boston
The Big Picture
"Gridiron Glory" is a temporary exhibit, on display until January 8. It's sizable, as far as non-permanent exhibits go, containing some 200 artifacts, award-winning photographs, and documents, mostly borrowed from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which pioneered the exhibit five years ago for its 50th anniversary. There's plenty on the Patriots, naturally, and even if your kids claim to know everything about the hometown team, they're sure to learn something about the squad's history, dating back to when they played at Fenway and Harvard Stadium. There's also video and interactive elements that kids can explore while grown-ups take a closer look at some cool memorabilia, like Tom Brady's draft card.
Unlike some exhibits, "Gridiron Glory" isn't organized into an obvious pathway that visitors can follow. Its elements are scattered about a large space, so expect your kids to be darting to and fro as they discover booths that interest them. Here are some of my kids' favorite parts:
Children can hear real, game-day player-coach communication by trying on these helmets.
Try-on football helmets with headsets: Situated near the entrance, there are side-by-side, regulation-sized NFL helmets that kids can try on—and listen to coach instruction and commentary from a real game.
Life-sized bicep and leg molds of players: We all know that part of the amazing thing about the NFL players is their hulking strength. Molds of players' muscles give kids an up-close view about just how big their favorite players are.
Interactive game board: This computer allows kids to match-up different teams and see how they've faired against one another historically.
Instant replay station: Kids can "get under the hood" and see the same sort of footage that officials see during an instant replay.
Test your arm and accuracy at a throwing tunnel.
Football throwing target: There's a tunnel where kids can test out their arm and accuracy.
Broad jump area: Great for little ones who are too small to hoist the pigskin, this little exhibit allows children to see how far they can do the standing broad jump.
Goal kick physics: Kids can adjust the angle and force of a mini ball in order to launch it successfully through a model of goal posts.
Lots and lots of jerseys and game balls: Our fave was Gronk's from the day he tied the record for touchdown receptions by a tight end.
Kids love the anticipation of seeing whether their friends make their physics-driven
Good to Know
- "Gridiron Glory" is located in the blue wing, on the second floor. It's next to the human body exhibit, which is a great spot to bring kids before and after, since its exploration of topics like nutrition, strength, and physiology are nicely correlated with the football theme.
- Thankfully, the exhibit organizers aren't shirking the contentious issue of concussions in the NFL, and in fact run some extra seminars related to the topic in the museum as an ancillary presentation to the exhibit.
- The exhibit is free with regular Museum of Science admission, which is $20 for kids and $25 for adults. You can also ask your local library for day passes to the MOS.
- Catch it before it closes on January 8—and cross your fingers that at least the Patriots will still be on display for weeks (in the playoffs, that is) after that!
All photos by Kelley Heyworth unless otherwise noted