Warsaw: Copernicus Science Centre, or great experiments on the bank on the Vistula River

Copernicus Science Centre

At the Copernicus Science Centre, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was intrigued by the cross-section of a 700-year-old sequoia, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso played the “Ode to Joy” with an exhibit that imitates an entire orchestra, while NASA astronaut George Zamka attempted a Neil-Armstrong-like leap on the Centre’s virtual Moon.

In the first two years of its operation on the bank of the Vistula river, the Centre was visited by more than two million people. It did not take long for “Copernicus” to become one of Warsaw’s main highlights. As opposed to a traditional museum, the Centre seems more like a laboratory where you can participate hands-on in experiments that involve sight, hearing, touch, smell or balance.

Intrepid explorers can easily spend all day discovering all the attractions that the Copernicus Science Centre has to offer. More than 450 exhibits have been classified into six permanent exhibitions: “Roots of Civilization”, “Lightzone”, “On the Move”, “Human and the Environment”, “Re:Generation” and the “Buzzz!” kids gallery.

Are you a fan of math and logic puzzles? You’ll find them on the ground floor where math enthusiasts beat their brains out on a long bench. Prefer sports? At your service: you can enter a small sports arena and race a snake, a hippopotamus, or even see if you can hang upside-down longer than a sloth.

“Copernicus” enables you to safely survive an earthquake measuring a 6 on the Richter scale or learn to write hieroglyphs. Sometimes, however, the greatest surprise lies in exhibits that seem inconspicuous at first, such as a small tube enabling you to listen to Portuguese fado through… your clenched teeth. Everything here is designed to arouse your curiosity, make you think and undertake your own scientific pursuits.

A separate part of the Centre is one of world’s most advanced planetariums: the Heavens of Copernicus. During shows, guests sit comfortably in reclining chairs gazing at the planets and constellations that are visible in the sky over Warsaw on a given day. It’s worth bringing along binoculars if you want to see more of the 20 million stars that are shown on screen.

“Copernicus” also boasts its own theatre. However, instead of regular actors, plays are performed by robots called “RoboThespians”. RoboThespians can walk, squat, nod their heads, make gestures and express their feelings with their LCD eyes. The theatre offers two pieces: by Stanisław Lem and Edwin A. Abbott.

One of the Centre’s latest attractions is the “High Voltage Theatre” devoted to electricity. Its main feature is a Tesla coil that can produce thunderbolts that reach up to several dozen centimetres-long.

You can also enjoy the learning opportunities of “Copernicus” without even having to enter the building. Between the Świętokrzyski Bridge and the planetarium building, there is the “Discovery Park” that is open to everyone. On sunny days, you can bring your beach chair and enjoy the view of the Vistula River, gaze at people practicing Tai Chi, watch a movie screened on the patio or look at the stars through a telescope.

Long lines of those wanting to have fun experimenting have already become a regular sight in the Powiśle district. Some weekends, the most persistent queuers have to wait a couple of hours just to enter the Centre. A recently launched online ticket booking system has helped to reduce the crowds in front of the Centre’s entrance, but the inside incessantly bustles with the energy of explorers of all ages. POLISH PRESS AGENCY (PAP)


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