A Journey Through COSI – The Center of Science and Industry

Tucked away in the bustling heart of Columbus, Ohio, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) stands as a beacon of inspiration and learning for curious minds of all ages since it first opened in March 1964.

As one of the nation’s leading hands-on science museums, COSI captivates visitors with its unique blend of over 300 interactive exhibits, engaging programs, and exciting demonstrations.

It was named the #1 science center in the United States for families by Parent Magazine in 2008 and the #1 Science Museum in the United States by USA Today in 2020. As a non-profit, it relies on memberships, ticket sales, volunteers, and more to keep providing its outstanding offerings.

Boasting over 320,000 square feet of educational fun, this state-of-the-art facility fosters a deep appreciation for science, technology, and engineering while providing a memorable and immersive experience that keeps guests returning year after year.

It isn’t just for visitors; Columbus residents have plenty to see there as the exhibits are regularly updated, and the temporary ones are renowned throughout the country.

In this guide, I take you on a tour inside COSI and share my tips for making your visit productive and memorable.

Permanent COSI Exhibits

How big were the dinosaurs’ bones? Where does energy come from? Curious minds of all ages will get their money’s worth in COSI’s permanent exhibits. They’re the perfect place to take your children on off-school days, do hands-on experiments in the lab, or just learn science facts on a rainy day.

COSI Classics

If you’re unsure where to start in the museum, COSI Classics is a safe bet with its rotating selection of classic exhibits. They are regularly updated and refurbished, so go back to see what’s new occasionally. Read on for other COSI Classics that the whole family will enjoy!

While these opportunities are generally available year-round, they are open based on specific schedules. Call the museum and ask about witnessing a hydrogen balloon exploding, riding a unicycle 17 feet above the ground, holding a meteorite, seeing a rat score baskets, and more!

American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery

This captivating display takes you back to the prehistoric era and features a life-sized replica of Tyrannosaurus Rex. It also includes an 8-foot-long Titanosaur femur, a 10-by-15-foot recreation of the famous Davenport Ranch track site, which is one of more than 40 such sites in the center of present-day Texas, spread throughout an area of 100,000 square kilometers.

You can also check out a fossilized Burmese amber that is over 100 million years old that contains an ancient feather inside and numerous dinosaur casts such as the three-horned Triceratops, the dome-headed Pachycelphalosaurus, T.rex furcula, as well as a 6 foot long mechanical T-Rex that walks in place to show how it may have moved biomechanically.

And there are plenty of interactive activities that engage visitors of all ages.

The Ocean Exhibit

COSI Ocean Exhibit

Explore the magical world of water in this permanent exhibit that has much to offer for visitors of all ages as you enter an underwater cave through a crashed shipwreck.

There, you will be able to use submersibles, sonar, and remotely operated vehicles based on real experiences and climb into a real submarine.

While this is my least favorite exhibit at COSI as an adult, the kids love it! The water cannons and interactions within the exhibit were a hit with the kids!

Learn about cohesion at the Water Bells, discover how waves affect the environment at the Wave Tank, and even try a Water Cannon!

Hours will pass by while you get to try everything COSI’s Ocean Exhibit has in store for you, including a chance to actually get wet if you so choose.

And don’t miss the impressive Temple of Poseidon with its 30-foot tall statue, waterfalls, fountains, and water jets.

The Life Exhibit

The Life exhibit at COSI is Columbus’ best place to explore the science of life, from the smallest organisms to the most complex systems.

The human body is so complex that this exhibit alone could take up several hours. Do you want to explore illusions and mind tricks?

Do you want to test your strength and flexibility? Or maybe you would like to witness real scientists conducting research?

You can do it all at COSI!

You can also see firsthand how many creatures have adapted to survive in their respective environments and learn about the science behind cloning, genetic engineering, and DNA analysis.

And don’t forget the replica of the human brain!

The Progress Exhibit

You know how much technology has changed since you were a kid. But can you picture how it was over a century ago? In COSI’s Progress exhibit, you will be able to not only observe but also interact with technological advances like telegrams and even 19th-century toys as you live vicariously through the residents of a small town called Progress in 1898.

This was one of my favorite exhibits because it reminded me of my grandparents, and growing up with some of the memorabilia that was on display. If you are into antiques, this exhibit is for you!

The Progress exhibit is perfect to allow the entire family to explore the history of science and technology and how it has transformed our lives.

From transportation and communication to energy and medicine, your kids will have a blast learning about technological innovations of the past century, and you are sure to enjoy them too.

Don’t rush through the interactive displays and hands-on exhibits that teach about the different forms of energy like solar, wind, and hydropower.

And don’t miss the model of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane!

Main street - Progress Exhibit at COSI
Horse and buggy
VW Bug and old gas pump - COSI Progress exhibit

The COSI Planetarium

Did you know that the COSI Planetarium is the largest in the state? With a Digistar 7 projection system and 60-foot dome, you will be able to fully immerse yourself in the various shows offered half the week between 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM.

You can also rent it for weddings and other private events you wish to hold under the stars, and can hold over 200 guests.

The Big Science Park

Big Science Park is for you if you would rather stay outside when the weather is getting warmer! This ample outdoor space (over 100,000 square feet!) is chockful of hands-on exhibits about science and tech.

Some of the most popular activities there include lifting a 2,437-lb car, rolling a two-and-a-half-ton granite sphere, the giant pendulum, which demonstrates the principles of momentum and kinetic energy, the 32-foot-tall outdoor climbing wall, and admiring the native flowering plants of the reconstructed prairie.

Kids of all ages will love the waterworks and wind power exhibits. The Big Science Park is full of hands-on fun and will give your little ones lots to do for hours while you get a break from entertaining and enjoy the sunshine.

Cost: Included with general admission

Temporary COSI Exhibits

Temporary exhibits are common at COSI, and they vary in the amount of time that they’re open. Be sure to regularly check the website or subscribe to the museum’s newsletter to see what else they have in store. Right now, here are some of the current and upcoming events you won’t want to miss.

The TUTANKHAMUN – His Tomb and His Treasures Exhibit

Don’t miss the King Tut exhibit at COSI. This incredible exhibit about the life and legacy of one of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs has been a hit in many states around the country already.

Be ready to set aside a solid hour to go through the collection of hundreds of replicas of artifacts found in his tomb, along with interactive displays loaded with information about the history and culture of ancient Egypt.

King Tut Exhibit - Death Mask - COSI

The recreated tomb of King Tutankhamun is pretty breathtaking, especially his golden death mask, jewelry, and sarcophagus.

One of the exhibit highlights is a replica of the famous mummy, which you can view up close and learn about mummification and ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife.

You can see more about this incredible exhibit in my Photographic Tour. Open until September 4, 2023.

Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits Exhibit

Open on April 15, 2023, Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits is the first-ever children’s museum exhibit based on Disney Junior’s award-winning series, Doc McStuffins.

This exhibit explores many animals’ incredible abilities to survive and thrive in extreme environments. You and your little ones will be amazed at how resilient some of them can be! You will learn about fascinating creatures that can live in scorching hot deserts and others that can thrive in the ocean’s depths with the help of interactive displays that let you explore the adaptations of these “superheroes” up close.

Do you wonder how camels, Arctic foxes, and octopuses can survive in their respective environments? Are you curious to test your abilities against theirs? In the Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits exhibit, you can get answers to all your questions in a fun and educational experience that is perfect for the whole family.

The Science of Big Machines

Are you or your kids fascinated by the world’s largest and most impressive machines like cranes, bulldozers, and excavators? If so, The Science of Big Machines exhibit (open through June 10 to 18, 2023) at COSI is a must-see! This interactive exhibit lets you get up close and personal with various massive machines and learn about the scientific principles that make them work.

It features a range of hands-on displays covering topics like mechanics, hydraulics, and electricity. You’ll also be able to try your hand at operating a simulated crane and even build your own simple machines.

This exhibit also highlights these machines’ essential roles in our daily lives, from the many jobs that rely on these machines, from construction and farming to transportation and manufacturing. The Science of Big Machines exhibit is lots of fun and educational and will impress everyone in the family.

COSI’s Farm Days

COSI’s Farm Days exhibit is a fun and educational hands-on exhibit designed to let you experience agriculture and farming, thanks to well-designed interactive displays. If your kids have questions about planting, harvesting, and animal care, they won’t want to leave until they’ve checked all the stations!

You and your little ones will be fascinated by all the different types of crops grown on farms and the tools and machinery used by farmers every day. The exhibit even features a simulated chicken coop and dairy cow display where you can learn about animal care and even have the opportunity to milk a cow!

You’ll even be able to engage in hands-on activities like planting seeds, sorting veggies, and exploring a barn filled with tools and equipment. A must-see!

Open through August 9 to 13, 2023.

COSI Hours

Tuesday10 AM–5 PM
Wednesday10 AM–5 PM
Thursday10 AM–5 PM
Friday10 AM–7 PM
Saturday10 AM–5 PM
HolidaysPlease check with COSI for holiday hours

COSI Tickets and Membership

COSI Membership Options

Ultimate FamilyUltimate$361.25
Basic FamilyBasic$181.25
Grandparent FamilyBasic$181.25
Single Adult FamilyBasic$151.25
Teacher FamilyBasic$151.25
Individual + GuestBasic$141.25
Family AccessBasic$51.25
Add-On Guest $45/each
Memberships are non-refundable and cannot be transferred or canceled before expiration. Photo IDs are required each visit to receive member benefits.

COSI General Admission

A COSI membership will pay for itself after a few visits. But if you don’t plan on coming more than a few times a year, check the Tickets section of their website, as they regularly offer discounts. In general, rates are as follows:

ADULT (Ages 13+): $25
YOUTH (Ages 2-12): $20
UNDER 2: $0
SENIOR* (Ages 60+): $23
TEACHER* with ID: $0. Free admission applies to the individual certified teacher only.
MILITARY* Ages 13+: $23

*Must have ID verification at check-in.

Reciprocal Member Admission

Are you a member of a museum that is part of the Association of Children’s Museums or the Association of Science & Technology Centers? If so, you could get a discount on your COSI membership. Specific rules apply and are listed here.

“COSI Connects” Science App

The COSI science app, called COSI Connects, is the perfect companion to the museum’s interactive exhibits and educational programs. Download it for free to have access to various activities, experiments, and challenges.

You can explore virtual exhibits, watch videos, and participate in live events and workshops. Like the museum itself, the app makes science fun and accessible!

Outdoor Fun Around COSI

If your family wants to venture outside after hours spent indoors exploring COSI, look no further than Genoa Park to the West of the museum with its beautiful fountain, walking paths, and stunning views of the Columbus skyline and riverfront, and Dorrian Green, the city’s newest park that boasts play areas and a butterfly garden and is located right in front of COSI.

COSI Contact Information

Address: 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Phone number: (614) 228-2674
Toll Free: (888) 819-2674

Check out their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.