“At that time of year, who wouldn’t want to escape to the islands?” asked Amanda Amstutz.

The Botanical Conservatory will opening the Tiki Bowl exhibit Jan. 9. It will be a glimpse of the Polynesian Islands in the middle of the Indiana winter.

“The Tiki Bowl is part of our winter play garden,” said Amstutz, who is the supervisor for programs and volunteers at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. “We try to do something with more hands-on play.”

The exhibit has parts aimed at the 3-5 year old age group, but it is really for the whole family. To get visitors up and exercising, the Conservatory will have six greens prepared for the Hawaiian bowling game of “Ulu Maika.” It’s like foot golf, Amstutz explained. Players roll and kick a ball toward the goal at the end of the green. No putters or clubs are needed.

The exhibit represents the Polynesian migration from Taiwan to Hawaii. Islands presented include Taiwan, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, the Easter Islands and New Zealand. The migration took thousands of years to complete, but visitors will be able to enjoy this display in an afternoon.

As part of the display, there will be a faux volcano. “It’s huge!” said Amstutz, “You can actually walk under it… We’ll have a few models of the canoes like they have in (Moana, the Disney movie),” she said, and there will be lots of tropical plants. Easter Island heads, petroglyphs and more fascinating details will also help visitors learn more about the islands to our west.”

The Conservatory will offer monthly Tiki Sessions where visitors can explore the culture of Polynesia, including basket weaving and bark papermaking. For their $1 night (Jan. 7 and Feb. 4), the Night Insight will be Island Games and Tropical Flowers, respectively. During the January session, visitors will be able to play Island games and listen to tiki legends. In February, visitors will have the opportunity to create a colorful Hawaiian flower clip. These events are free with regular admission.

To protect visitors, the Conservatory is mandating the wearing of face masks. The Conservatory also will enforce social distancing, but as Amstutz put it, there is a lot of room inside the Conservatory, so that makes the rules easier to follow.

The Tiki Bowl Play Garden Exhibit is at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St., from Jan. 9-April 4.

Cost is $5 for adults, $3 for ages 3-17, and free for age 2 and younger.

For more information, call 260-427–6440 or visit botanicalconservatory.org.

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