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Museums and Zoos Popular in Poor Economy

Spring break 2010 may mean a trip to a coastal beach for some families, but in this down economy others are spending their money at home by visiting museums and the Columbus zoo.

COSI is showing the impolite science of the human body at the Grossology Exhibit. Inga Stimmel brought her two children who are on spring break for an afternoon of discovery. Stimmel says the price was right.

"We even actually came after three o'clock cause it was cheaper after three, so for just the three of us it was less than twenty dollars so you really can't beat that," said Stimmel.

Hilliard first grader Owen Stimmel says he enjoys learning about grossology. "There's a bunch of gross stuff and all kinds of fun stuff too," Stimmel said.

COSI advertising director, Carli Lanfersiek says the museum is still popular with families.

"General attendance has been over past years. I think we're really benefiting from that staycation mentality in fact last summer we had an Egypt exhibition and we had about 20 percent higher attendance than even the year before that," said Lanfersiek.

Lanfersiek says a big draw this year is the return of the Titanic exhibit which includes more science on how artifacts are recovered and new Titanic artifacts like postcards.

"Now these are parchment papers that have been underwater for almost 100 years and with the recovery process are able to be shown in this exhibition in one piece and often the script is legible," said Lanfersiek.

At the Columbus Zoo ranked number 1 in the nation by one travel guide, attendance is up about 30 percent so far this year. Zoo director Dale Schmidt says that's not surprising.

"Normally in a downturn economy zoos and local attractions like zoos do very well because they're local, they're reasonable. You don't have to travel to them and they're great family fun," said Schmidt.

Baby animals like Beco the 1 year old elephant, are a major attraction. And after 10 years, a new Polar Bear Exhibit will open later this spring. The Olson family of 5 traveled from central Illinois to see how the Columbus Zoo stacks up.

"And is it holding up to be number 1? Oh, absolutely, absolutely, and like I said we go to zoos every major city we go to and this one is absolutely beautiful," Olson said.

Last year a record of over two million people visited the zoo and Zoombezi Bay, the water park.

At the Columbus Museum of Art downtown, Spokesperson, Nancy Colvin says despite building renovations art lovers are coming in.

"Especially in challenging economic times, people are looking for a way to kind of recharge their battery and find some kind of solace when everything is going crazy around them and the arts are a wonderful outlet for that," said Colvin.

Colvin says free admission last summer and special events like the Egyptian art exhibit also boosted attendance.