Comic Book Heroes: Featuring the Max Simon Comic Book Collection

Just last month, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis opened a Comic Book Heroes exhibit. As the largest children’s museum in the world, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a more than 400,000-square-foot facility that contains 11 major galleries that explore the physical and natural sciences, history, world cultures, and the arts.

I recently asked Curator Janna Bennet about more information on the newly acquired Comic Book exhibit.

SciFiChick: Tell us a bit about the Comic Book Heroes exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Janna Bennet: I’ve had a lot of fun working on this exhibit. We wanted to have something that everyone thought was cool from the person who doesn’t read yet to the comic book collector. It’s an opportunity to introduce folks to the wide variety of comic books of yesterday and today. Almost everyone knows about Superheroes, but there are a lot more to comic books than our favorite heroine or hero! So inside the exhibit entry the space is comic book shop where one can discover genres including Adventure, Sci-fi/Robots, Funny Animals & People, Comics from all over the world, Superheroes, and “everything else.”

In the rest of the gallery we explore what it takes to be a superhero and how to create comic books. In addition, the exhibit explores the relationship between comic books and other media including movies and TV.

Besides comic books, what other items are included in the exhibit?

We’ve included a lot of costumes, collectibles, action figures and other cool toys to help heroes leap off of the page. There is also original comic book art on display. We recently purchased a Silver Surfer movie theatre display from last summer’s “Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer.” We’ve also brought out all of our movie and TV costumes including Adam West’s Batman stunt cape and Christopher Reeve’s Superman “flying” cape from the 1978 and 1980 movies. We also acquired the special effects model of Reeve from the same movies. As a special treat, we were able to borrow a Batmobile from “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” that will be in theatres this summer.

What are some of the activities that families can enjoy?

Most importantly, you can dress up like for favorite superhero! Every time I go in the gallery, I love seeing Captain America, Wonder Woman or Superman drawing their own superhero or looking at the cases.

Staff also leads daily workshops where the visitor becomes the artist. Following step by step direction to create a Superhero character. Visitors can also learn more about the Batmobile.

And one can always read comic books! We have some electronic copies of very old comics and paper copies of newer ones. Another activity has suggestions of about new comics that you might like.

For the history buff, we presented “the secret origins of comics” (history) in just two small cases! That is sure to start debate – I couldn’t put everything in that I wanted. So what would “you” as the visitor done differently? From a friend I hear there isn’t enough Green Arrow in the exhibit, well I can’t please everybody!

How long will the exhibit be featured?

Comic Book Heroes: Featuring the Max Simon Comic Book Collection will be open until May 3, 2009.

What is the purpose of the exhibit?

Comic Book Heroes celebrates our love affair with comic books and the unique way art and words come together to tell stories. The initial idea for exhibit came from discussions with Melvin and Bren Simon after the death of their son Max Simon.

Max Simon began reading comics around age nine. He collected both Marvel and DC Comics as a teenager, accumulating extensive runs of X-men, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. As his passion for comics grew, Max began to seek out contemporary and back issue copies of classics like Wonder Woman, Batman, Incredible Hulk, the Justice League and the Teen Titans, and to explore new comics from smaller independent publishers. He eventually collected over 19,000 comic books.

Max died unexpectedly at a young age and his family’s generous donation of his comic book collection allows the museum to share his interest with children and families throughout Indiana and the world.

Who are some of the guests that you?ll be featuring throughout the year?

Throughout the year we’ll feature comic book artists and writers. Coming up this summer two artists Jay Hosler and Stuart Sayger will be in. Both are also featured in the exhibit for their work on Optical Allusions and Bionicle respectively.

Jay Hosler- June 28 and July 12 in the Studio- from 11-12:30 and 1-3:00pm Stuart Sayger- July 9th from 1:00-3:00pm

Batman will also be here on August 2nd.

Is the Comic Book Heroes exhibit included in the cost of admission for the museum?

There is no additional charge for the exhibit. The museum is open daily during the summer from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. After Labor Day, we’re open Tuesday through Sunday.
The Museum is also open free for Families the 1st Thursday of each month from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

What ages is the exhibit geared towards?

We always hope people of all ages will find things in the exhibit to enjoy! I hope everyone who visits will appreciate the unique way comic books join art and words to create fantastic characters and stories. Along the way, I hope visitors are inspired to try their hand at creating comics. It’s a cool medium with lots of cool people!

Thanks, Janna!

You can bet I’ll be checking out the exhibit soon!
Click here for more information about the Comic Book Heroes Exhibit and the Children’s Museum of Indianapoils.

7 thoughts on “Comic Book Heroes: Featuring the Max Simon Comic Book Collection”

  1. That would surely be an exhibit that I would enjoy. And I LOVE the dinosaurs, very creative and fun. Just the kind of thing needed to attract kids…and kids at heart…to the museum to show them that they are not boring.

  2. Wow…I hadn’t heard anything about that. I love that they are tapping into the creative process of comics rather than doing a simple show-and-tell. How cool!

  3. I am visiting Indiana from Alabama. I took my son to the museum and it was very interesting.

  4. We just visited the museum and saw the exhibit with our two boys (ages 5 & 9). We all enjoyed it! The Indianapolis Children’s Museum has several great exhibits, but for this trip, the comic exhibit was our favorite!

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