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What’s changed? Almost everything

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s expansion and renovation is finished — and starting on Saturday, Sept. 20, kids of all ages will get to see if Rafael Viñoly’s design is as good as it looks in this publicity photo.
for The Brooklyn Paper
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What’s changed at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum? Just about everything.

Here’s a before-and-after primer on some of the changes the landmark cultural institution has made from its earlier incarnations.

The exterior

THEN: A bunker-like trolley kiosk from 1907 is used as the entrance to the museum’s underground building, opened in 1977.

NOW: Visitors can see the excitement of Totally Tots from the street, courtesy of 90-foot windows along Rafael Viñoly’s canary-yellow wraparound structure. Special extra-long overhangs limit direct sunlight, which reduces the need for air-conditioning.

Exhibits

THEN: In the 1990s, “Night Journeys: Home Is Where I Sleep” helped kids address the subject of bedtime with storytelling areas and hands-on stations. Zzzzz.

NOW: “Living in Space,” a high-tech temporary exhibit open through January, gives visitors a comet’s-eye view of the International Space Station, allowing them to try on astronaut gloves, dock an incoming Space Shuttle and see how bathrooms work in zero gravity, among other activities.

Star critters

THEN: The museum was home to dozens of mounted displays and some live specimens, including Plato, a spider monkey from Colombia, who lived there from 1909 to 1914. Also in residence was Fantasia, a 20-foot albino python.

NOW: Fantasia is back! But now she has a new home with a bigger water pool, more spacious windows and a wall-length rainforest mural that should remind her of her tropical homeland.

Updated 5:34 pm, September 18, 2008
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