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Destination: Art museum's special exhibit is whimsical, colorful, incredibly kid friendly

Posted August 1, 2013

Not every modern art exhibit includes a glimpse of Dora the Explorer and a piece of free candy. But that's some of what you get with 0 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary Art at the N.C. Museum of Art.

There is just about a week left to catch the special exhibit. It closes Aug. 11. But it's worth a visit with kids. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've seen an art museum exhibit so kid friendly.

Here, for instance, museum goers can walk around a New York apartment made to scale with translucent nylon and created by artist Do Ho Suh. You'll find everything from the toilet and tub in the bathroom to the electrical outlets to the kitchen sink. 

They can watch as their eyes turn to smoke in a piece by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Stand in front of the screen and facial recognition software will hone in on your eyes, turning them to smoke and then capturing the picture of your eyes at the bottom of the work. (My kids didn't find it as scary as it sounds). Dora makes an appearance in the N.C. Museum of Art's 0 to 60 exhibit Destination: Art museum exhibit is whimsical, colorful, incredibly kid friendly

Or they can marvel at the massive work created by Lisa Hoke, a rainbow-colored collection of cups, plates and cardboard that covers the walls of much of a large gallery. This is where kids can spy Dora, Pooh, princesses, SpongeBob SquarePants and other recognizable characters. Many of the items in the piece were collected from museum staffers.

It took Hoke 10 days to complete the piece. Click here to watch the process in a quick video. And check out this image gallery with pictures provided by the museum. The installation of artist Lisa Hoke's “We’re Lost, but we’re making good time” (Yogi Berra) at the N.C. Museum of Art The making of artist Lisa Hoke's piece at the N.C. Museum of Art's 0 to 60 contemporary art exhibit

"It looks like the ocean," said my eight-year-old as she took in the stunning piece. 

Laura McManus, the museum's youth and family programs coordinator, took me and my daughters through the exhibit on Thursday. McManus tells me that the exhibition focuses on artists who consider time and the passage of it from a myriad of angles. The exhibit is a collaboration between the museum and the Penland School of Crafts in the N.C. mountains.

Because this is contemporary art, there's a lot here that kids will recognize, from those cartoon characters to the digital prints of overhead pictures of the museum's park to the $5 bills in a piece titled "Afro Abe." Bride by Beth Lipman

And it's highly interactive. McManus pointed out several pieces that aren't even complete until individuals interact with them. There's "Pulse Index," a large room where visitors' fingerprints are used to create the art. And then there's "The 7 Lights" where visitors can play with their shadows as projections move from day to night. (My kids loved running through this exhibit).

As we walked through the exhibit, McManus asked my girls questions about what they were seeing, what materials were used and what they liked about it all. When my eight-year-old spied Hoke's rainbow-colored piece and asked McManus what it was, she skipped ahead on the tour to take us directly to the work.

That's what we all should do when we're exploring an exhibit with kids, McManus said. 

"Take their lead," she said. "Go where they gravitate." 

It's likely they'll land eventually at "Untitled (Portrait of Dad)," a pile of individually wrapped pineapple hard candies that has grown smaller as visitors take a piece, something that's encouraged. The shrinking pile is another example of the passage of time.

It also is a sweet reward for checking out this whimsical exhibit.

The museum will host family tours every half hour from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Aug. 10 and Aug. 11, the closing weekend of the exhibition. The 25-minute tours are designed for kids ages 6 to 12 and their adults. 

The tours are free, but you will need to buy a ticket for the exhibition and get a tour pass, which you can do at the museum's box office. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for kids ages 7 and up and seniors ages 65 and up. Kids 6 and under are free.

For more about the exhibit, watch my video interview with McManus.

Go Ask Mom features places to take kids every Friday. For more ideas, check our posts on park and playgrounds and Triangle family destinations.

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