4 amazing interactive art experiences for kids in Atlanta


4 amazing interactive art experiences for kids in Atlanta

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Steve Schaefer
Harrison Urrea plays with the Light Ball Orchestra installation at the recent grand opening for teamLab, a digital art experience at the Mall of Georgia. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC


A look at three more interactive art experiences for children in metro Atlanta:

The Alliance Theatre’s Theatre for the Very Young

The “Babies in Space,” a new play area and production geared toward the very young (newborn to 2 years old), is a playspace for the little ones and their caregivers to come into and play with the “touch-able, squeezable, toss-able” items in the immersive environment. It’s free daily for play (performances cost extra).

Now open. Performances begin on May 21 and run until Aug. 14.

The playspace will be open to the public on weekdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. until Sept. 2.

Performances are 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays; and 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets for performances are $10; ages 5 and under are free.

During the run of the performances (until Aug. 14), the playspace will also be open on Saturdays after the ticketed performances, from noon-5 p.m.; and on Sundays before the ticketed performances, from 10 a.m.-noon.

Located in the Joe Bankoff Gallery on the first floor of the Woodruff Arts Center. Alliance Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org/babiesinspace.

Center for Puppetry Arts — Worlds of Puppetry Museum

The Center for Puppetry Arts’ Worlds of Puppetry Museum allows guests to explore a replica of Jim Henson’s office and the Television Studio. In the TV studio featuring a puppet stage, children can play puppeteer, creating their very own puppet shows for the big screen.

Closed Mondays; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays: noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

Museum-only entry: free for members; $10.50 for nonmembers. All-Inclusive Family Series Ticket (includes workshop, museum and show) is $10.25 for members; $20.50 for nonmembers.

1404 Spring St. N.W., Atlanta. 404-873-3391, www.puppet.org.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta

“XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness”

Open June 11-Sept. 4. This upcoming exhibit features many elements designed to foster conversations and experiences about bringing love and forgiveness. One invites children to write or draw a thought, idea or message of love on a piece of paper. Then they roll it up and put it into a custom-made paper compressor. They use their strength to pump a lever, and the paper gets transformed into a smooth, round token — embossed with a heart.

Open six days a week (closed on Wednesdays): 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. These hours will remain in place until summer. As part of its special summer hours, the Children’s Museum will be open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. beginning June 8 through Aug. 3.

$14.95 for children and adults; children under 1 are free. Children’s Museum of Atlanta, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive N.W., Atlanta. 404-659-5437, www.childrensmuseumatlanta.org.

Three-year-old Xander Davis colors a paper drawing of a jellyfish. Seconds later, Xander watches the slip of paper come to life — a green jellyfish swimming in a neon blue ocean (also a giant digital wall). And when he touches the wall in this interactive exhibit, he quickly realizes how the aquatic world responds to his touch. He taps on food bags on the screen — and feeds his gliding jellyfish.

On a recent morning, Xander reveled in a very different type of “art experience” that was just opened at Mall of Georgia in Buford by teamLab, a Japanese tech-art collective. Quickly becoming an international sensation for how it uses designers, engineers and artists to create technological wonderlands, teamLab now has permanent collections at several museums, including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. One of teamLab’s most recent immersive installations, at Pace Menlo Park in California, features a piece called “Crystal Universe,” which combines 50,000 LED lights with a 3-D-light and space backdrop.

The interactive art exhibition here catering to children is called “teamLab Future Park” and will run through July 31. Unlike traditional art galleries, this digital installation, targeting children ages 3-12, invites children to engage with the artworks — and be part of them. It’s an immersive experience incorporating the use of light, sound, video, digital sequences and virtual reality environments. The exhibit illustrates the intersection of art and science with cutting-edge digital technology. The result: an artsy, digital playground.

Xander was giddy in an area featuring brightly colored beachball-sized globes that light up a space otherwise in the dark.

“This is amazing,” effused Xander’s mom, Kristen Davis of Lawrenceville. “He loves flashlights and glow in the dark, and he is a future soccer player, so this is right up his alley.”

Davis, who works with children with special needs, also raved that the exhibit seemed accessible to children in wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, after an hour at the exhibit, Xander showed no signs of slowing down. He headed over to Sketch Town. After coloring in objects including a car and a jet, he watched them appear on a large screen depicting a futuristic city. He also turned the truck drawing into a three-dimensional paper craft model to take home.

Highlights of the exhibit include the following:

Sketch Aquarium

This installation explores the magic beneath the waves in a digitally rendered aquatic world. A favorite among all ages, the immersive Sketch Aquarium allows guests to create drawings of sea creatures and watch them come to life in a virtual ocean. The busy sea creatures swim around and interact with each other, and guests can even feed them by touching fish food bags on the screen.

Create! Hopscotch for Geniuses

Children can design their own customized hopscotch game by arranging circles, triangles and squares on an electronic tablet. These shapes are then projected onto the floor. When children land on the same shapes in succession, they trigger bright colors and sounds.

Light Ball Orchestra

Children play with beachball-sized globes in a variety of colors and sounds to create a one-of-a-kind orchestra. Kids can team up with other kids to push, bounce and roll the balls to change the color and sound of the music. The exhibit is in The Village at the mall, 3333 Buford Drive N.E., Buford. Tickets: $8-$12 (free for children 2 and under). Hours from May 14-27 are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; noon-6 p.m. Sundays.

Hours change slightly starting on May 28. Go to simon.com/mallofgeorgia for specific hours and more information. Buy tickets on site or go to Eventbrite (to purchase tickets): www.eventbrite.com/e/teamlab-future-park-tickets-24849487486.

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