Delaware museum capitalizes on Pokemon craze

Kids search for Pokemon GO characters outside the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington. (Phil Casey/for NewsWorks)

Kids search for Pokemon GO characters outside the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington. (Phil Casey/for NewsWorks)

The Delaware Museum of Natural History hopes its inclusion in the Nintendo app game will mean more visitors and more learning opportunities.

Pokémon GO is the latest craze sweeping America.  Based off the popular Nintendo and Gamefreak franchise that launched in 1995, Pokémon GO allows Android and iOS smartphone users to catch Pokémon on their phones. The game uses the phone’s GPS and clock to detect Pokémon in the real world. The game encourages players to walk around outside in order to catch Pokémon, find items for the game, and to take on Gym Leaders.  This is turning real life locations into hot spots for Pokémon GO users.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History is one such hot spot, as it features two gyms and three Pokéstops. Pokéstops are essentially notable locations in the real world which are used as landmarks within the game to grab essential items. DMNH’s Jennifer Acord noticed that the museum was a Poké-hot spot when she downloaded the game herself. Noticing the app’s popularity and addicting gameplay, Acord took to social media to note how key of a hot spot the museum is for potential Pokémon trainers.

When the museum comes up as a key landmark for the game, a picture of one of their key exhibits, the Yangchuanosaurus, a close Asian relative to the Allosaurus pops up.  “On the stop is the name of the dinosaur and a photo of it, so when someone’s out in the community looking for these, they can actually learn about attractions and interesting things within their own communities,” Acord said.

Along with the interactive learning opportunities, several key statues in the museum act as Pokéstops and gyms, such as the boar, bear, and Yangchuanosaurus fossil which serve as Pokéstops. The deer and baby bear statues out front serve as gyms.

Jennifer Tifft, mother of three, was at the museum today with her children. She was also catching Pokémon while showing her kids around the exhibits.  She noted that she had no idea that the boar in front of the museum was actually a fountain as opposed to a statue.  She played with the cards growing up, she explained.  “I like that it forces you to go places.  I’ve been to this museum a bunch of times, but it forced me to look at the fountain for instance,” Tifft said. “It’s fun to have a bunch of little cartoon characters in this scary world.”  The game offers levity and fun for people looking to escape a bit from everything that has been happening in the news of late.

Special Events & Program Director Alexis Camac noted that she had noticed people standing in front of the statues and fountain out front to capture the Pokémon at the museum, so it is definitely attracting people to the museum and motivating people to travel around more as the game becomes more popular with the museum’s staff and its patrons.

The Delaware Museum of Natural History opened in 1972 and welcomes more than 65,000 people a year.  The museum features the only permanent dinosaur collection in Delaware, as well as a simulated coral reef, and a paleontology lab.  The museum features an interactive Nature Nook that allows for hands-on science activities for children of all ages. The museum is currently hosting a special exhibit called “Extreme Deep.”

Now you can stop by the museum and catch ’em all.

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