Bulgaria just got its first new museum in decades. Designed by U.S. architectural firm Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership and founded by the nonprofit America for Bulgaria, Muzeiko (Little Museum) brings the American phenomenon of the children’s museum to Eastern Europe, where interactive educational exhibits are not a normal part of museum culture. Things are different at Muzeiko, which opened on September 30 in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The website advertises: “There are so many things to touch at Muzeiko!” 

Image Credit:Roland Halbe

The museum, which is centered around a giant sculptural tree that can be seen from every floor in the building, features three levels of exhibits that cover the past (archeology, geology, and paleontology), present (the natural environment and cities), and future (new technologies and space travel). There are activities that allow kids to control dinosaur-bird arms to find food, bring “water” supplies from a lake to the city, hang upside-down like a sleeping bat, and “dig” for archaeological artifacts. The place is designed to engage kids through all their senses, with features such as a “forest” that smells like real trees and a glowing floor that they can project their own drawings on.

Outside, there’s a garden and a science playground that generates energy to pump water through a fountain. The green roof on top of the building has a climbing wall and a place where kids can learn about the weather and, during certain times, look at the stars. (The museum also has a planetarium during normal daytime hours.)

See more of the museum in the images below: 

Time to learn what an I-beam is! 

In the paleontology section of the museum, visitors can hunt dino-eggs for dinner. 

Visitors can also enter into an artificial cave to learn about all kinds of geology. 

A conveyer belt moves stones in the Bulgaria Rocks! exhibit. 

Learn about mosaic art through reconstructed Roman bathhouses. 

An interactive floor in the "Imagine Your Future" exhibit allows kids to generate images and move them around the ground. 

All images courtesy Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership unless otherwise noted.