The Hemisferic and the Museum of Science
Housed in the dried-out skeleton of the world’s biggest whale, the Prince Felipe Science Museum is worth visiting primarily for the other-worldly architecture of Santiago Calatrava. A joint ticket will allow you to check out the exhibits here, and catch a show at the IMAX theater in the nearby Hemsiferic.
I can’t think about the Prince Felipe Science Museum without some frustration. Of all the museums we’ve ever visited, this one probably has the wildest architecture. Seemingly designed by an alien race whose geometry has advanced far beyond simple right angles, it’s the kind of structure which you can’t wait to get inside of. For a science museum, it’s the perfect setting, and so it’s aggravating that this particular science museum happens to be horrible.
It’s almost as though they didn’t try, content to rest upon the building’s “wow” factor. This is one of the most heartless science museums I’ve ever seen, with exhibits that would have bored people in the 1970s. Much of the equipment doesn’t work, nothing is clean, and it’s all so old. It’s antithetical to what a science museum should be: modern, surprising, interesting. One of the exhibits is nothing more than having you stand on a scale, and not even that works properly! Every visitor has a more-advanced piece of technology in their pockets, than anything in the museum. And playing on a smartphone would be a better use of time than suffering through these exhibits.
The museum doesn’t even properly use the amazing space it’s fortunate to have. The entire first floor is practically empty; the ticket booths and a small store are found here, but otherwise it’s just a cavernous, useless hall. It’s this massive building, and then it takes you about 30 minutes to visit the museum, and you’re like… “Is that it?” Well, yes, but perhaps you missed the portrait hall of moderately well-known Spanish scientists? Oh yes, that’s super-fascinating, definitely don’t pass that up.
The Prince Felipe might be worth checking out, only if you have kids. You can let them run around and play with the idiotic exhibits which never work, while you get back to your smartphone.
Calatrava’s architecture is again the star of the show at the nearby IMAX. The Hemisferic is one of our favorite buildings in Valencia, hands down. It’s designed to resemble an eye, and even has a retractable wall that looks just like an eyelid. When the blue pools which surround it are still, the mirrored effect is spell-binding.