For the family that can't agree on much of anything, Rolling Sculpture, the special exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art, has something for just about everyone. Sleek cars. Industrial design. Decorative arts. History. A selfie station.
The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 15, is a tribute to automobiles made for the uber rich from the 1920s to the 1940s, the art deco period. The 14 cars and 3 motorcycles in the exhibit are all truly something to marvel over - whether you appreciate them for their engineering feats or their beauty.
I know some families shy away from taking their kids to the art museum in Raleigh (thought it's been one of my very favorite places to go since my kids were little). At this exhibit, however, even young car-loving kids will enjoy seeing these sleek and colorful vehicles.
Courtney Klemens, the art museum's coordinator of family programs, took my crew on a quick tour the other day. (Check out our Facebook Live video, which is below). She also created a great online scavenger hunt, which pulls out eight details of the cars in the exhibit and makes for a fun way for kids and their adults to explore Rolling Sculpture together. The scavenger hunt is free to exhibit visitors (and the museum has free wifi).
During our visit, Klemens pulled out three cars that kids might especially enjoy looking at and some talking points for parents.
1936 Stout Scarab: At the beginning of the exhibit, this car might remind families of today's minivan. Designed as a "moving office," the interior has swivel chairs, a table and more. There also are lots of art deco designs, including the scarab on the hood of the car. That scarab was inspired by Egyptian designs, which were popular during the art deco period. After you're done in Rolling Sculpture, head over to the museum's Egyptian collection to see another scarab.
1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B Xenia: In the second section of the exhibit, the focus is on streamlining. Klemens tells me designers in the day were streamlining everything, including vacuum cleaners, to represent speed, progress and moving forward. So, you'll see lots of that streamlined teardrop shape in the cars, including the Xenia. Ask kids to pick out those shapes. And, check out the windshield. Doesn't it look a bit like a cockpit on a plane?
1935 Bugatti Aerolithe: This car is a reproduction of the one and only car made by Bugatti. Made with magnesium, a lightweight material that also is flammable and easy to break, the car sits in the final section of the exhibit, which focuses on why these gorgeous styles didn't take off. The answer is easy for the Bugatti: It's not safe to drive. Not only is the material questionable, there are no side mirrors and the rear-view mirrors are almost impossible to see out of. Klemens recommends talking with kids about the cars and what would make them safe - and not so safe.
Rolling Sculpture runs through Jan. 15. Tickets are $19 for adults; $16 for seniors, military and college students with current ID; and $13 for kids ages 7 to 18. Kids 6 and under are free.
Or, if you go to the museum's Holiday Family Fun Friday, families can get in for $5. The ticket includes free admission to the exhibit; art deco-inspired art making and games; free treats for the kids; music from the Sandbox Band; a visit with Santa; and more. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Tickets are on sale, but going fast for this event, which is 5:30 p.m., Dec. 16.
And here's Klemens during our Facebook Live video tour ...