There is ear wax, an eyelid, nose hairs and even a few big, fake boogers - all to touch.

No wonder the interactive exhibit featuring body parts was teeming with children this week.

The $150,000 permanent exhibit called "Bodyology" opened at the Children's Museum Tucson this month, marking the most expensive exhibit investment in the museum's 25-year history. There's a special $2 admission price today for adults and children.

In 1,600 square feet of space, the museum has constructed a treehouse complete with trees that grow magnetized fruit, a juice bar for play smoothies, a grocery store, vegetable garden, reading area and an interactive display of body parts.

The latter includes a heart that beats, lungs that breathe and an eye that blinks. The faux boogers in the giant nose are pretty popular, as is the touchable uvula inside a giant mouth that will occasionally emit a giant burp. It also has the ability to yodel, laugh and hiccup.

"We wanted a place where parents would be comfortable interacting with their kids," museum Executive Director Michael J. Luria said, as a father helped his daughter put play fruits and vegetables inside a blender at the juice bar.

Luria also let a group of giggling little girls in on a secret - they can hear anything that's said into the giant ear by listening to the giant mouth. As they tried it out, the girls giggled even more.

With a lot of help from donors, including financial and consulting help from Tucson Medical Center, the museum was able to replace its old health and wellness exhibit, which Luria described as outdated, worn, and "not what we can and should be doing for our community."

"Bodyology" includes a focus on where food comes from. The interactive play vegetable garden also ties in well with a real new, outdoor garden in front of the museum that grows vegetables for the nearby restaurant Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, 135 S. Sixth Ave.

"There is a disconnect with kids about where their food comes from," Luria said, noting that the design took into account studies on childhood obesity. "We know that kids are not getting out, moving enough. This is about moving around while having fun."

The exhibit ensures children are able to run around and be active, and also gently educates about the importance of health, he said.

Bodyology is part of a $600,000 investment the nonprofit museum has made, with the help of donors and sponsors, in updating exhibits in the past two years.

The improvements appear to have paid off, as museum attendance in 2010 was up 20 percent from 2009. The museum attracts about 125,000 people per year, most of them from Pima County.

Its next big investment will be a $250,000 interactive exhibit that will combine science, technology, engineering and mathematics as part of a project with Angel Charity.

That project's features will include a soundwave tube and Bernoulli blower.

"Whether you are running a for-profit restaurant, which I used to do, or a museum, the only constant should be change," Luria said. "At the museum we want to keep giving kids opportunities to grow and learn."

If you go

The Children's Museum Tucson

Where: 200 S. Sixth Ave. downtown.

Hours: It is open Tuesdays to Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends. It is closed Mondays, as well as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Admission: In recognition of the museum's 25th anniversary, admission today is $2 for adults and children.

Information is available at:

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at or 574-4134.