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Animals and Engineering: The Robot Zoo to Electrify Grand Rapids this Summer

Michigan Business Network
May 27, 2024 2:00 PM

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his Exhibit Opens at the Grand Rapids Public Museum on Saturday, June 22, 2024.

Grand Rapids, MI - The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is excited to announce the upcoming arrival of The Robot Zoo on June 22, 2024, a traveling exhibit full of hands-on activities and fun for all ages. Starring eight enormous complex robot animals that illustrate fascinating real-life animal characteristics, this exhibit reveals the magic of nature as a master engineer.

Larger-than-life-size animated robots include a chameleon, a rhinoceros, a giant squid with 18-foot tentacles, and a platypus. Also featured are a house fly with a ten-foot wingspread, a grasshopper, a bat, and a giraffe whose head and neck stretch nine feet tall.

The machinery simulates the movement and characteristics of real-life animal counterparts such as how chameleons change colors or how a fly walks on the ceiling. In robot animals, muscles become pistons, intestines become filtering pipes and brains become computers. The ears of the bat swivel to listen for prey in the night and the giant squid’s tentacles grab a struggling fish. 

“What is so fun about The Robot Zoo is how it blends the wonders of engineering and zoology,” said Dustin Tyler, Vice President of Marketing at the GRPM. “Visitors can observe the robotics at work in the movement of these giant animals and consider the actual species they represent. There are countless ways to engage with the material that will ignite students’ curiosity.”

Hands-on sensory activities in the exhibit include “Swat the Fly,” a test of the visitor’s reaction time (one-twelfth as fast as a house fly’s), and “Sticky Feet,” where visitors can experience what it’s like to be a fly on the wall. Triggering the “Tongue Gun” demonstrates how a real chameleon shoots out its long, sticky-tipped tongue to reel in a meal.  

The Robot Zoo will be displayed at the GRPM from June 22, 2024, through September 22, 2024, and will be included with general admission. The GRPM offers discounts for Kent County Residents, and Kent County children ages 17 and under can visit for FREE every day. In addition, through Labor Day, September 2, 2024, active duty military personnel and up to five family members can enjoy the GRPM for free through the Blue Star Museums program. 

This exhibit is based on the book “The Robot Zoo” which was conceived, edited, and designed by Marshall Editions of London, England. For more information about The Robot Zoo, visit grpm/robot-zoo.

Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is a 170-year-old, publicly-owned institution home to more than 250,000 unique artifacts that tell the history of Kent County and beyond. Funded in part by Kent County taxpayers through a 10-year millage (2016), the Grand Rapids Public Museum offers three floors of exhibits, the region’s only planetarium, extensive educational offerings, and protection of The Mounds, a National Historic Landmark. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, with its primary location in downtown Grand Rapids, MI at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For additional information including hours of operation, admission fees including Kent County discounts, and exhibit/event listings, visit grpm.org. 


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