Foto Friday: Skirball Center’s Noah’s Ark and the Gary Baseman Art Exhibit

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!

Noah's Ark at Skirball Cultural Center invites everyone of all ages inside for a day of play and creativity.

Noah’s Ark at Skirball Cultural Center invites everyone of all ages inside for a day of play and creativity.

A wider shot of the first large room inside of Noah's Ark at Skirball Cultural Center.

A wider shot of the first large room inside of Noah’s Ark at Skirball Cultural Center.

T and his friend played at this stationary ark-house for almost 20 minutes! It was a wonder (and so wonderful) to witness.

T and his friend played at this stationary ark-house for almost 20 minutes! It was a wonder (and so wonderful) to witness.

Our friends helped to build part of the ark by way of this puzzle station.

Our friends helped to build part of the ark by way of this puzzle station.

T helped the animals into the Ark, two-by-two of course!

T led the animals into the Ark, two-by-two of course!

Kids can climb, crank, and create their way through Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Kids climb, crank, and create their way through Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center.

T's friend helps feed the animals berries by putting together a magnetic maze feeder. She spent about 15 solid minutes on this project.

T’s friend fed the animals berries by putting together a magnetic maze. She spent about 15 solid minutes on this project.

T helps to set the table at Noah's Ark for all the animal keepers on board.

T set the table at Noah’s Ark for all the animal keepers on board.

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.

T listens to the book "Little Gorilla" at Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center.

T listened to the book “Little Gorilla” at Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center inside of where else but the Ark’s newly opened gorilla corner.

T is a giraffe!

T is a giraffe! Isn’t it obvious?

What would you put on your Ark, RMT'ers?

What would you put on your Ark, RMT’ers?

T gets to work making his own ark at the arts and crafts station at Noah's Ark inside of Skirball Cultural Center.

T made his very own Ark collage at the arts and crafts station at Noah’s Ark inside of Skirball Cultural Center.

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T's ark... I think someone has Hawaii on his mind!

T’s ark… I think someone had Hawaii on his mind!

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.

T touches old keys and other recycled materials that now make up animals inside of the Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center.

T touched old keys and other recycled materials that now make up animals inside of the Noah’s Ark exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center.

What awesome imagination went into creating the herds and flocks of animals at Noah's Ark!

What awesome imagination went into creating the herds and flocks of animals at Noah’s Ark!

T sits on the gorilla's "lap" (an old car seat) at Noah's Ark.

T sat on a gorilla’s “lap” (formerly a car seat and lots of socks) at Noah’s Ark.

I love my new gorilla family!

I “gloved” the new gorilla family at Skirball’s Noah’s Ark!

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!

OK, this was just too much... when we entered Noah's Ark at the Skirball Center, we were greeted by various animal droppings. I guess the exhibitors are as much about imagination as they are about keeping it real!

OK, this was just too much… when we entered Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Center, we were greeted by various animal droppings. I guess the exhibit and its staff are as much about imagination as they are about keeping it real!

The kids were put right to work cleaning up after all those animals at Skirball's Noah's Ark.

The kids got right to work cleaning up after all those animals at Skirball’s Noah’s Ark.

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!

Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open is on exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center now through August 18, 2013.

Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open is on exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center now through August 18, 2013.

Welcome to the Gary Baseman special installation at the Skirball Cultural Center!

Welcome to the Gary Baseman special installation at the Skirball Cultural Center!

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.

Have a seat at the Gary Baseman special exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Have a seat at the Gary Baseman special exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Each room inside of the Gary Baseman exhibit tells its own story based on the artist's cultural roots, childhood upbringing, and personal perspective. Make sure you read all about it as you tour the "house."

Each room inside of the Gary Baseman exhibit tells its own story based on the artist’s cultural roots, childhood upbringing, and personal perspective. Make sure you read all about it as you tour the “house.”

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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!

Inside Gary Baseman's bedroom at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Inside Gary Baseman’s bedroom at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Hey, it's Manny, Moe, Jack... and T! I didn't read up as to why MM&J were here inside of the Gary Baseman exhibit, but maybe my friend can remind me (or one of you, RMT'ers)!

Hey, it’s Manny, Moe, Jack… and T! I didn’t read up as to why MM&J were here inside of the Gary Baseman exhibit, but maybe my friend can remind me (or one of you can, RMT’ers)!

The kids too a second to allow me a pose in front of some of the Gary Baseman artwork on display at his special exhibit at the Skirball Center. Thanks, kids!

The kids took a split-second to allow me a photo in front of some of the Gary Baseman artwork on display at his special exhibit at the Skirball Center. Thanks, kids!

This was where we found the kids most of the time at the Gary Baseman art installation at the Skirball Center. And it's fine... it's a hands-on, please touch art exhibit for all ages.

This was where we found the kids most of the time at the Gary Baseman art installation at the Skirball Center. And it’s fine… it’s a hands-on, please touch art exhibit for all ages.

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.

Where's Toby? Pretty much everywhere around Skirball Cultural Center all thanks to a wonderful special art installation on display now through August 2013 at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Where’s Toby? Pretty much everywhere around Skirball Cultural Center all thanks to a wonderful special art installation by Gary Baseman that’s on display now through August 2013.

For more photos from our time at the Skirball, you can check out my album on Facebook. You can also read about my previous visits to Skirball here.

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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.

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