The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are now a museum exhibition. Well, sort of.
The turtles, a brotherly foursome created as comic book characters in the 1980s, are the public face for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer,” the spring touring exhibition opening Saturday at the Mayborn Museum.
While the exhibit, created by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, does offer a little TMNT history or backstory and there’s a tinge of science in “Secrets,” the turtles serve more to brand a series of team-building and puzzle-solving activities geared for families with young children.
“We want to bring exhibits that are fun and family-oriented,” explained Rebecca Nall, assistant director of exhibits, communications and visitor services.
Though the TMNT have surfaced in pop culture as recently as a 2016 live-action film, “Out Of The Shadows,” Nall acknowledged that there may be a stronger appeal among parents who remember the turtles from the television cartoons, comic books and toys of their childhood.
The Mayborn Museum is the first Texas stop for the TMNT exhibit, the latest of several Children’s Museum of Indianapolis shows that have visited the Waco museum.
The underlying theme is one where individuals’ talents and skills are combined to solve puzzles or accomplish tasks: teamwork, in other words, or, in keeping with the exhibit branding, “turtle power.”
As TMNT fans well know, there are four turtles, each with a distinctive personality and name borrowed from a famous Renaissance artist: Leonardo, the group’s de facto leader; Donatello, a thinker and inventor; Raphael, action-oriented yet loyal; and skate-boarding, pizza-loving Michelangelo, the group’s de facto teenager.
The games and activities in “TMNT: Secrets of the Sewer,” created largely for elementary-school students and their families, play off those personalities and turtle traits.
Teams/families have to work together to build a bridge, navigate a rope maze without triggering an alarm, slice pizzas in a video game, connect sewer pipes and test their pizza-slice-grabbing reflexes.
As the rat Splinter, mentor for the sewer-dwelling Turtles, often says, “Together there is nothing you cannot accomplish.”
The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through May 6. Turtles Raphael and Michelangelo will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for photos. During the exhibit’s run, museum staff will drop in daily to coordinate activities for those attending, Nall said.
The Mayborn Museum will follow “TMNT: Secrets of the Sewer” with another aquatic-themed touring exhibit this summer, “Titanic: The Artifact Expedition.”