AHHAA, the Fun Science Museum in Tartu, Estonia
Munchhausen’s Tower, the Shanghai Building, the Ames Room, Newton’s Apples Tree, a rope that bikes ride on – you can see, touch, and turn on all this breathtaking spectacles along with dozens of other exhibits in the intriguing science center AHHAA in the Estonian city of Tartu.
What to Do with Your Kids in AHHAA
Open on the first floor of AHHAA are large halls with dozens of interactive exhibits. Your entertainment starts as soon as you walk in the door: next to the cloak-room is a tall table that makes you feel like a little child. After buying a ticket you can try out the flight simulator right in the hall, lie down in a rainbow hammock, and attempt to make your way through a fun house.
After having played around in the hall, you can keep on going right into the Technology Room. There you will find the Munchhausen Tower that you can climb on with the help of a rope and your own strength, meditation cocoons where visitors can take a break and rest from all the noise, and rotating tunnel. In center of the hall, every 10 minutes people go for a ride “in the minerals of the Earth” on a special elevator and next to it is a scale. If the weight on the scale exceeds 186 kg, a metallic sphere will open up resembling a flower.
“Hiding” behind a curtain of smoke is a dark room with light exhibits and you can sit around it in a real electromobile and become more familiar with how it works. You can climb the stairs to the balcony and go for a ride on a bike along a rope as well or try out your vestibular organ on the spaceman simulator.
On the fourth floor of AHHAA, a stairway leads out of the Technology Room into a spherical planetarium. Inside it are two different programs: Traveling through the Universe is recommended for children at least eight years old and they recommend children 10 years and older to go participate in The Space Awards Race. They do shows in Russian, but you need to reserve the tickets ahead of time.
In the next room over, the Hall of Living Nature, you get to observe the life of ants and the tropical fish of a coral reef. If you get lucky, you will see young nestlings hatching in the incubator. Also open there is the Shanghai House with slanted walls that make your head spin and in front of it is a “yoga bed” made out of nails. In Water World, you can play with balls, build a dam, transfer water using a water pump, and spray until your heart desires. On the other side of the Nature Hall is the Temporary Exhibitions Hall. They are interactive as well and are swapped out once every half year. Their cost is also included in the price of the ticket.
For children between the age of 4 and 14, they hold workshops where children become detectives, cooks, astronomers, physicists, and chemists. Children under 4 years old are explained how their bodies fight germs and how the human body is structured. Schoolchildren 7 years and older are offered to try make lemonade, chocolate, or marchplanes. Finally, teenagers over 12 years old are let in on the secrets of DNA code and use them to construct a jet automobile.
There are 20 different programs held at the workshops and the cost of attending them is included in the price of the ticket. Unfortunately, they are usually held in Estonian. To attend a workshop in Russian or English, you need to call ahead of time and reserve a spot on their schedule. Their phone number is +372 5749 4878 and you can also email them at [email protected]
Also located inside AHHAА is a science theater where they perform shows with clarifications in Estonian and English or Estonian and Russian. At the Scrambled Egg show, they take raw eggs and burn them like light bulbs and at Explosive Chemistry they make foam clubs – hot, cold, and explosive. At Safety Theater, they show kids what might happen if you’re not careful at home and in the kitchen and in the program Look Out for the Car! They explain why you need to buckle up in the car and how airbags work during an accident.
There are more than a dozen total experiments with explosions, flashes, and chemical reactions, all which are completely safe. To find out the schedule of the day, you can refer to their website or ask at AHHAA itself. You can get inside the science theater for free with your entrance ticket.
Schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 13 are offered to also depart to AHHAA’s Night Camp. Groups of 10-16 kids stay the night in the museum where they are awaited by trivia, night workshops, museum tours, space travel into the planetarium, performances at the science theater, and goodies: dinner and breakfast at the Newton café. To sign up a group of Russian-speaking kids, you will have to call at least 2 weeks before you plan on visiting at the previously indicated phone number or email them at AHHAA’s email address. The cost for one child is 88 euros as of October 2013.
Dinner is prepared for the whole family on the 2nd floor in Newton café with a kids menu and a play station. If you look out the window of the café, you can see rather intricate grooves with balls rolling down them – that is Newton’s Apple Tree. Across from the entrance on the first floor, is a store where they sell souvenirs, fun and educational kits, riddles, and toys.
Also located in the center of AHHAA is a 4D movie theater. It is located in Lounakeskus Mall and you can get there by taking one of AHHAA’s buses. Playing in 4D with moving platforms for children are Estonian cartoon heroes and for a little bit older children and adults they have space racing and car rallies as well as pursuit and travels underground. As of October 2013, tickets for a show cost between 2.50 and 3.90 euros and groups of 12 or more are offered discounts.
Where is AHHAA located? How much do tickets to AHHAA cost?
AHHAA Interactive Museum (written “AXXAA” in Russian) is located in the very center of the Estonian city of Tartu. It is easy to get there in two-minute walk from the bus station or in 10-15 minutes by taxi from the airport. From the old city hotels, you can get to AHHAA on foot in an average of about 20 minutes.
At the entrance of AHНAA they sell bracelets that you and your child will use to spend the whole day at the center. A ticket costs 12 euros to get in for schoolchildren, 9 euros for students and pensioners, and preschoolers are let into the museum free of charge if their parents are with them. For parents with a lot of children they have family tickets for 26 euros for 1-2 parents and all of their children to get in. Tickets to the planetarium are sold separately (starting at 4 euros a ticket, family ticket + planetarium = 32 euros) and since it isn’t very big, you need to reserve yourself a spot by calling ahead of time +372 7 456 789 (all priced indicated are valid as of October 2013).
To see active discounts and the price of the tickets, refer to AHHAA’s website.
Before visiting AHHAA, groups of 12 people or more are best advised sending a request to hold a tour, shows in the science theater, and workshop classes or planetarium shows in Russian. You can also order a program to be held for a child’s birthday. You need to send a request ahead of time – no later than one week before you plan to visit (or even earlier) and a month and a half ahead of time if it is going to be during the Christmas season. Requests are taken from Monday to Friday from 10 am until 6 pm by calling +372 7 355 097 or +372 5749 4878 or by contacting them by email at [email protected]