The Children's Museum of the Arts has been around for a while (although it is in a new location) but I had never heard that much about it. When I saw this article in the NYTimes, and then noticed a subsequest post about the opening of the show by Misaki Kawai by a friend on facebook, Lauren and I decided it looked like a fun place to go with our families. I was really glad we did! The current show by Kawai is whimsical and quite fantastic -- and the art filling the museum is a combination of pieces by the artist intermingled with artwork created by the visitors. I was sorry that I did not bring my camera - the photos here were all taken with my phone!
The whole experience is very interactive: one piece by Kawai is a giant furry animal with huge wooden combs that kids can use to brush the creature's hair. Additionally, there are numerous art stations where both kids and adults can sit down and do a project. We began our visit at a basic animation table where you were invited to create a creature using some collage supplies that were layed out and then sit with the instructor at the computer and use your creatures to make a short piece of animation. One of the coolest things about this table is that the end product is a composite of all the creations of the day, and the whole thing is posted online so you can see it even after you've gone home. The clip that our kids contributed to is here. In another area there were more elaborate 3-D sets paired with more sophisticated software where kids could explore animation more deeply - we did not get a chance to try it out but some examples of work done by other kids can be seen here.
From there we went to the clay studio (the one station where advance sign up was required). Here the kids lined up on bar stools and once they decided what to make an instructor doled out bits of plasticine and lots of advice to help you make your idea come to fruition. Over the course of a few hours we also made some miniature paintings on small boards with acrylic paint and very fine brushes, a bouquet of paper flowers, and 3-D paper sculptures. The kids enjoyed a ball pit and big slide too.
In addition to all the activities we did, there were many more that would be fun to try on our next visit. I think the more advanced animation would be fun to try, and there was also a sound studio, multiple (and varied) painting stations, and another collage area too. Last but not least, there was an area for very young kids with more open ended craft supplies and tiny tables and chairs so even 2-3 year olds would be amused.