Taking my kids to the New Children’s Museum makes me feel human again. Yes, I love my children, but having two young ones doesn’t allow for much to happen after 6 p.m. (cue dinner, baths, books, lullabies, multiple calls for glasses of water, occasional insane fits about wanting to keep the light on and hours of intermittent night nursing).
In other words, my arts and culture consumption has dropped dramatically since becoming a mom.
Enter the New Children’s Museum, which doesn’t just serve up canned, pre-fab traveling exhibitions like most of its counterparts. Instead, the museum gives us art-starved parents something special: They commission contemporary artists to create new, site-specific work based on a theme, and curators assist them in coming up with a piece of interactive or participatory installation art that both adults and kids will hopefully dig.
Pleasing parents is the easy part. Getting artists to design something that little people will actually understand and enjoy is a huge risk and a challenge, but the museum has succeeded far more often than it’s failed.
Roman De Salvo, a San Diego artist who’s done several large public-art installations, was inspired by our state’s ability to re-engineer the watersheds by building reservoirs that help make our desert landscapes livable for large populations. He built hand-carved wooden cars that kids can drive on a wooden ramp that wraps around a wood and foam reservoir sculpture.