Happy Friday, RMT’ers! I am making it a pretty heavy “Foto Friday” because, well, I have a lot of photos from our recent visit to the Skirball Cultural Center!
Our friends were kind enough to invite and make advance reservations for us to join them in a day of play at Skirball’s Noah’s Ark exhibit, a wonderful, wide-open indoor play space for kids and adults alike. However, to refer to the Ark simply as an indoor playground would do it a terrible disservice. There’s so much to do inside Noah’s Ark that I can hardly list them all here for you; in fact, I don’t even think T took advantage of everything himself. In fact, my friend told me that in the times that she and her daughter have been here over the past several years that they always seem to discover something new on each visit themselves, which is what the Ark is all about.
Along with all of the wonderful manipulative toys, puppets, puzzles, gears, and games at Noah’s Ark, there are also intermittent story times and take-home crafts made available for folks to do, too. I want to stress that these activities are not just for the kids as we parents were encouraged to come, sit, listen, imagine, and create right alongside our kids. The Skirball staff was wonderful at guiding kids to the various activity stations yet hands-off enough to allow them to have at it with their own imaginations, either solo or working with others.
And what an imaginative, creative place Noah’s Ark is, right down to how it was built and the materials used to build it, which are all recycled or sustainable products. Yes, all of them. The gorillas are made of old gloves, catcher’s chest guards, and car seats. You can also spot old ropes, toy parts, and bicycle parts rigged up to recreate a moving giraffe head. The wood of the Ark itself was harvested from sustainable forests, too, which is good because there’s a LOT of wood in the 8000+-square-foot space!
We had a fun time talking to, playing with, and cleaning up after (no, really… everyone poops, right?!) the animals of Noah’s Ark. We could have stayed all day yet we couldn’t as tickets are timed into two-hour increments so that as many folks as possible can come and see what the Ark is all about. We’ll just have to plan another voyage for another time, I suppose!
After leaving Noah’s Ark, the fun continued after we turned into Skirball’s special exhibit, Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open. This space is set up as a house, inside and out, and here all visitors are welcome to go inside, sit down, hang out, and be one with the artist’s childhood world. Baseman’s Jewish roots and heritage are widely on display here, as are how those cultural influences had a role in inspiring the characters and world inside of his artwork. Most know Baseman for his classic character Toby and for being the artistic designer behind the game Cranium.
The most notable part of the Baseman exhibit as it relates to kids, however, is its interactive nature. The couch in the living room, like many of the furnishings throughout, is an actual family piece that (according to a story I heard on NPR) Baseman himself never really sat on as a child because his family preferred to leave it open for guests and visitors (thus the exhibit name, “The Door is Always Open,” a motto his family and father in particular lived by). However, Baseman sets the rules here and now he’s inviting all of Los Angeles (and beyond), young and old, to stop by and lounge around on the mid-century piece as they thumb through Baseman’s books. By the way, it’s a very comfy couch!
I am glad I remembered hearing about the Gary Baseman exhibit. At times, while the art was a bit on the “spooky” side for T and his friend (some of the characters are a bit dark and have those wide, crazy eyes that some younger kids might find frightening), there was still enough for the kids to do to stay happy and entertained (like climbing through a clothesline and running in the front yard). Whenever I find an art museum or exhibit where kids are welcome to come into and be themselves (translation: wild and crazy), I feel I must pass that information along. To me, there’s no better way to introduce kids to art than in a hands-on, please touch kind of way. Thank you for opening that door to all of us, Gary Baseman.
Noah’s Ark opened in 2007 and remains one of if not the most popular draw at the Skirball Cultural Center, especially for families with young children. It’s considered a work-in-progress with new animals and objects introduced periodically (the gorillas are new to the exhibit this season, for example). While admission to the Ark is included with general admission tickets, advance reservations are strongly recommended due to the Ark’s popularity, capacity restrictions, and the timed nature of its admission policies. “Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open” will be on exhibit through August 18, 2013; admission is included with general admission tickets and no additional reservations are needed. Ticket prices for the Skirball Cultural Center are: $10 General; $7 Seniors and Full-Time Students; $5 Children 2-to-12; FREE to members and children under-2. Please note to reserve and pay online via the Skirball reservation system there’s a $1.50 additional charge per ticket. Admission to the Skirball is FREE to all on Thursdays, but again reservations are strongly recommended for anyone planning to enter Noah’s Ark. The Skirball is closed Mondays. Click here for more information on planning your visit, including hours, directions, parking (which is FREE), and holiday closures.