‘Videotopia!’ among new exhibits at Exploration Place

Exploration Place had to make extra room for the big “Star Wars” exhibit that visited this summer. Now that it’s gone, the center is filling the space with two new permanent exhibits and two new traveling exhibits, three of which open Saturday.

The traveling headliner is called “Videotopia: It’s Game Time,” a trip back to the 1980s and the glory days of video games. Visitors will be able to see how arcade games started out and developed into the building blocks for today’s home video games. They’ll also be able to play restored and new video games, including Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Frogger. The exhibit runs through Jan. 1.

Also opening Saturday is “Art in Motion,” which is more of an interactive art installation than a traditional exhibit, Christina Bluml of Exploration Place said. When visitors move or touch a wall, they will project virtual images made of lines and spheres.

“These elements interact with one another and with those from the wall in a virtual environment that models the physical surroundings,” according to Exploration Place.

“It’s really fun, and it’s really cool,” Bluml said.

The installation will be on display through April 28.

Both exhibits are included in regular Exploration Place admission or membership.

“Star Wars” was the biggest exhibit ever staged at Exploration Place, and it had been anticipated for a long time. Attendance numbers will be released soon.

“We’re very happy with how it went,” Bluml said.

Now that it’s over, “it’s time for us to work on our permanent exhibits,” she said.

First among them is “KEVA: Build Your Mind,” which will open Saturday next to the castle in Exploration Place. “KEVA” will feature towers, buildings, animals, sculptures and bridges built of 4 1/2-inch blocks. After seeing the structures, families will be able to use the blocks to build their own creations.

Exploration Place also will soon open a new health exhibit area in what’s now the Grand Hall. The area will teach healthy habits and encourage interest in health-related careers.

The first feature of the area will be “Big Mouth,” a big model of a mouth that will have interactive touch points on teeth, gums and tongue. Other interactive features will join “Big Mouth” in the future, including “Big Eye,” “Big Brain” and “Big Ear.”

Events related to the exhibits are planned for this fall, including new after-work mixers for the 21-and-older crowd. The first MiXplore, on Oct. 12, will be called “Like, It’s Totally Not Game Over!” It will feature a presentation on arcade game restoration by Jason Cox, along with music and dancing, food, drink and admission to “Videotopia.” Attendees will be invited to dress up 1980s-style. Hours will be 6 to 10 p.m., and tickets will be $30 ($25 for members).