As a rule, we try not to hang out at museum shows designed for children–it’s already creepy enough to be referring to yourself as “we” all the time anyway. But when we heard that the newest show at the Skirball here in LA was designed by one of the top architecture firms in the country, we grabbed the nearest kid and headed to the media preview.
“Noah’s Ark” has a lovely premise behind it. Using the Ark as a metaphor for life, teamwork, biodiversity is all fine and good, but kids want action. So picture four rooms of kid-proof animal exploration–with a ginormous Ark parked in room three. Kids can make lighting and rain, control a giant giraffe, throw balls of “food” at the gaping mouth of a hippo (or anywhere else they want for that matter), and even operate a huge conveyor belt that dumps foam animals into the Ark, two-by-two. And these kids were going absolutely nuts! This was not the Natural History Museum–this was Discovery Zone.
But the coolest part for us was the animals themselves–almost 300 of them, all ingeniously made from repurposed materials. So a zebra has piano keys for a mane. A flamingo has the belly of a purse and flyswatter feet. And this is the best: A crocodile with an open violin case for his mouth…with a curling violin tounge protruding from within. We could not contain our delight for such things.
The seemingly-unbreakable exhibition was designed by Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen (known for their excellent art-architecture marriages) with Jim Olson handling the Ark itself. Alan Maskin oversaw the design of the animals, as did puppeteer Chris M. Green. If you’re with kids anywhere near LA after June 26, when it opens, get tickets. Because if this little afternoon outing was any indication, “Noah’s Ark” is gonna be a zoo.