The Lincoln Children’s Museum celebrated its 25th anniversary by opening two new exhibits Sunday.

A ribbon-cutting for the exhibits and birthday bash event took place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mayor Chris Beutler spoke at the event, followed by several theatrical and musical performances.

After a year in the making, children can now play in, on and around Cuckoo Construction presented by Hausmann Construction, a 34-foot structure that resembles a clock tower.

Sharice Kucera, director of marketing, said it’s the museum’s largest exhibit, having replaced the hot air balloon exhibit. She said this new site focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills and teamwork.

There are three levels to the clock tower with stepping platforms on the left side, a slide on the right and a tunnel opening at the bottom. The museum installed a doorway to the tower from the upper level so handicapped children can also partake in the fun.

Hausmann Construction provided hard hats and vests for this exhibit -- children become the workers on this construction site. There is an orange tube along the side of the tower so that the workers can communicate with each other from the different levels.  

The challenge of this exhibit is to fill the windows on the front of the clock tower with light blue foam bricks sent up on a conveyor belt from the bottom. But the workers must complete the task in 15 minutes as an animatronic cuckoo bird will chime from the top of the tower and all bricks will suddenly drop to the bottom.

Another new exhibit at the museum is the Grow Zone, which is an expansion of the toddler area. Kucera said the museum wanted to have a designated safe space for toddlers and infants to play. 

The Grow Zone is designed as a magical garden area and features an interactive firefly symphony that plays music, a noodle forest and a honeycomb rest area with a nearby bookcase for some light reading. 

"We don't want to be super technology," Kucera said. "We're not going to turn into a giant iPad."

So instead of computer games, the museum relies on interactive games that respond to the child instead of demanding a series of steps to play.

"Kids expect things to make sounds and light up when they touch them," she said.

Although Sunday's event was dedicated to showing off the new areas, the museum has also set up a "25 years of play" section in the lower level that shows photos of the museum's changes over time and what exhibits were most popular through the years.

Reach the writer at cdunn@journalstar.com or 402-473-2655. 

Follow him on Twitter @ConorWDunn.

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