Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Must For Young Kids: The Skirball Center's Noah's Ark Exhibit

Sometimes you gotta know how to speak a 5-year-old's language.

"We're visiting the Skirball Center to see it's cool Noah's Ark exhibit. You're gonna love it" elicits a shrug.

"We're going to a playground with lots of pretend animals and things you can climb" -- that's more like it.

The Skirball Cultural Center's Noah's Ark attraction -- which it notes was five years in the making -- is all of that, and more. Based, of course, on the biblical tale of Noah's Ark, the attraction focuses on all sorts of interactivity.

The animals seen throughout aren't constructed with normal materials, but are truly works of art. A violin case serves as an alligator's head. Turbines make up zebra stripes. Pasta-like rubber tubes are interpreted as porcupine quills. And so on.

The real attraction for kids Evan's age, of course, is the amount of climbing, stirring, wheeling, jumping and playing that is part of the attraction. Kids can create electricity and create a rainstorm. They can climb up rope ladders into a treehouse-like maze above ground. They can pretend to cook over a campfire and serve fake food to others. And they can emulate pairs of animals walking the plank up to the ark.

Later, we moved on to another kid-friendly attraction: A simulated archaeology dig. I may have enjoyed it as much as Evan: Together, we dug through sand to find replicas of old jugs and other ancient wares, and used brushes to discover fake ancient building foundations, just like you'd uncover on a real dig.

We didn't have time to take Evan to yet another kid-friendly attraction: An arts and crafts room. And we also didn't get a chance to look at the Skirball's more adult offerings -- including the current exhibition "Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968." We'll have to return for that.

Not a bad way to keep a preschooler preoccupied on a Saturday afternoon -- we'll be back. Our thanks to L.A. Story's Laura Clark, from who we won tix to see the Noah's Ark.

Tix for Noah's Ark (and the Skirball) are $10 General; $7 for Seniors (65 and over) and Full-Time Students; $5 for Children 2-12; and free to kids under 2. The Skirball is also free to all visitors on Thursdays.

2701 North Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Museum Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 12 p.m.–5 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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