When it opened in 1996, the Cinedome at The Children’s Museum was the only theater in Indianapolis capable of showing large-format films. Built as part of a $14-million expansion project and designed by Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architecture, the 310-seat Cinedome was an Iwerks theater that mostly featured nature and travel films from the National Geographic Society and other sources.
Included before every showing was Imagine Indiana, a specially commissioned 7-minute film that provided an aerial view of Indianapolis and central Indiana ranging from the museum to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to the Indiana State Capitol building (with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir singing inside its rotunda) to the city’s downtown district. Making good use of the large-format screen, it proved very popular with audiences throughout the years.
The same project that resulted in construction of the Cinedome also produced Allen W. Clowes Festival Park, a 12,000-square-foot open area designed for special outdoor events. Over the years it was the site of a variety of programs and activities, including a temporary studio set up to demonstrate the art of blowing glass during the 2006 debut of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass, the exhibit and 43-foot-tall multicolored tower of blown glass that rises through the museum’s core.
Cinedome Conversion to Dinosphere
The Cinedome fell victim to the emergence of other large-format theaters in Indianapolis. Limited attendance and costly maintenance led to its demise: in 2003 the theater was gutted to be transformed into Dinosphere: Now You’re in Their World, the museum’s popular exhibit that immerses visitors in the Cretaceous Period, 65 million years ago. The huge space, now defined on the exterior by a large curved wall through which a trio of dinosaurs appears to have smashed their way to freedom, is no longer home to larger-than-life movies, but it still puts on a great show as the home of large-in-life prehistoric creatures.