Sports Museums: Lessons Off the Field

Modern sports museums and exhibits are moving beyond the game to highlight academic subjects such as physics, women’s studies and history within their experiences.

rochester museum and science center's new exhibit, wonders of water, entrance - CambridgeSeven

A new exhibit, Wonders of Water, opens Friday at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave., in the first-floor gallery that previously housed the popular AdventureZone.

That exhibit, which initially opened in 2000, permanently closed in the spring.

The new exhibit is “all about water, our interactions with water, why it is so important for us to be stewards of water and how water has shaped our region,” said Calvin Uzelmeier, director of featured content at the museum. “It’s really looking at water as a force of nature and a source of life.”

Uzelmeier said the exhibit has a “great mix” of brand-new experiences and new takes on several popular displays within the former AdventureZone, including an interactive water table, exhibit on the Erie Canal (and the function of a canal lock) and a remotely-operated vehicle that visitors can operate to discover what can be found at the bottom of Lake Ontario.

As visitors enter the exhibit, they’ll be transported to an underwater arena within Lake Ontario, where a massive, interactive climbing structure with LED lights on each step will take center stage. The changing color of the lights on each step reflects the changing water temperature during different seasons, and spanning decades, within the lake. The structure is also surrounded by fish you’d find within the great lake.

The exhibit features a replica of a shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Ontario, the USS Scourge, which sank during the War of 1812. Visitors can climb aboard and play in costume, and operate the ROV on the lower level of the shipwreck. There’s also a quiet area to retreat to behind the vessel, with a reading nook and bean bag chairs.

On the opposite side of the room, visitors discover how water connects us to all living things and each other. They can learn about environmental activism, including water conservation, and film their own video at a green screen to share on social media.


There’s a brightly colored water table, where children can test their fishing skills, build a spray park, empty a sewer drain, operate a faucet and alter the river flow using blocks and other obstacles. A newly-built interactive display will show how canal locks work and share the history of the Erie Canal. There is also a gardening exhibit and a boardwalk area dedicated to wetlands and the importance of our ecosystem.

“One of the things that’s so special about this is that its a very immersive gallery, so when you walk in you are feeling like you are in a new place,” Uzelmeier said. “You feel like you are underwater in Lake Ontario, and next to the shipwreck of the Scourge, and the new climbing structure that’s reflecting as though you’re moving through the waves.”

The museum will host a weekend of special water-themed activities on Saturday and Sunday to commemorate new exhibit, including creating watercolor bookmarks and live demonstrations about the properties of water.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sundays. Museum tickets range from $16 to $18 per person.