Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson
It’s already half way through summer, which means many of us are looking for new and exciting things to do before the kids go back to school—indoors of course! Luckily, the Valley is home to a variety of family-friendly exhibits of all stripes; from science to art to sea creatures, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for a fantastic round up of kid-friendly exhibits and start exploring today!
The World of Giant Insects
Arizona Science Center’s latest featured exhibition, The World of Giant Insects, transports you into a bug’s life getting up close and personal with interactive animatronic critters. With every aspect of the exhibition designed in collaboration alongside prominent entomologists to ensure scientific accuracy, and utilizing technology to create life-like movements and gestures, you will truly feel like you are being transported into another world.
Through Sept. 5; Arizona Science Center; www.azscience.org
One of the most popular exhibits at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is located in the Latin America Gallery. The Recycled Orchestra display highlights the ensemble’s inspiring story and innovative instruments. In a slum town in Paraguay, families survive by collecting and reselling garbage. In 2009, ecological technician and visionary music teacher Favio Chávez gathered a small team to plunder the massive landfill of Cateura for materials and constructed an ensemble of instruments made of recyclable trash extracted from the landfill. In just a few years, their innovation and passion have led to a thriving music school and a youth orchestra that performs internationally.
Ongoing; Musical Instrument Museum; www.MIM.org
The Ultimate Octonauts Experience
This new exhibit allows guests to explore the amazing world of the Octonauts and take part in brand new underwater missions. Guests will be able to explore a mysterious cave with Captain Barnacles and join Kwazii on a thrilling chase to reclaim his lost treasure. Guests will also enjoy helping Peso clean up coral reef and rescue all the sea creatures.
Ongoing; SEA LIFE Arizona; www.visitsealife.com/Arizona
It’s Your Turn: A HOME Studio
It’s Your Turn: A HOME Studio, in the Heard’s Sandra Day O’Connor Gallery, is a few steps from the museum’s signature exhibit, HOME: Native People in the Southwest. After seeing HOME, visitors—particularly families—will be able to apply what they’ve seen of the history, art and culture of Arizona and New Mexico American Indian tribes with new fun, hands-on activities. These include constructing a Hogan, coloring a bracelet, decorating a saddlebag, and more. After finishing their activities, visitors are encouraged to return to the HOME: Native People in the Southwest exhibit to see which parts of it inspired their own work.
Ongoing; Heard Museum; www.heard.org
Come build among giant mushrooms and engineer beneath an umbrella of lush greenery in the newly transformed fort room. Let you imagination take you deep into a lively forest. Did you know that while building a fort your child is thinking about and solving complex problems using a host of skills? They’re figuring out basic engineering concepts such as tension and compression, estimating distance and height, calculating loads, and testing the force of gravity. There’s no better way to shape those fundamental mathematical thinking skills than learning through play in Building Big!
Ongoing; Children’s Museum of Phoenix; www.ChildrensMuseumOfPhoenix.org
Threads: Gathering My Thoughts
Inspired by grassroots yarn bombings, South Carolina artist Susan Lenz turned her attention to the most basic fiber art material: yarn. “Threads: Gathering My Thoughts” is a site-specific installation that invites visitors to explore a labyrinth of colorful threads and baskets that hang from the ceiling and envelop the space. The connections and entanglements created by the installation visually represent the complexity of the human mind and are great for families to explore.
Through Aug. 7; Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA) Museum; www.mesaartscenter.com
At the new LEGOLAND Discover Center, you can see iconic Arizona attractions of favorite local buildings made completely out of LEGO bricks at the popular MINILAND exhibit. “Using over 1.5 million LEGO bricks, see Arizona come to life with interactive displays, touch screens and sound effects,” according LEGOLAND Discover Center. Famous landmarks include Arizona Biltmore, ASU, University of Phoenix Stadium, and more.
Ongoing; LEGOLAND Discover Center; arizona.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/
The New Animist
Animism is the age-old belief that everything in the universe possesses a spiritual energy or life force. With the resurgence of environmental awareness in the past decade, animism takes on new meaning today. The New Animist will spotlight selections from the museum collection to illustrate how animist beliefs coincide with contemporary concerns about the environment.
July 16 –Sept. 3; ASU Art Museum; www.ASUArtMuseum.asu.edu
Nathaniel Lewis Presents: The Catacombs of Professor McGee!
An interactive exhibit, artist Nathaniel Lewis has transformed the Gallery @ The Library into the 19th century home of the eccentric Professor McGee for visitors old and young to explore. Parents and children can enjoy exploring the house and catacombs on their own, or pick up a free field journal that contains games, puzzles, and encourages kids to look for clues placed throughout exhibit.
Through Aug. 31; Gallery @ The Library, Scottsdale Civic Center; www.ScottsdalePublicArt.org
Way more than just a play space, Artville is perfect for kids under 5. “Young crawlers to curious toddlers will interact in a town built to cultivate awareness of color, line, shape and texture while emphasizing the town philosophy of artistic exploration,” according to the i.d.e.a. Museum. There are fun spaces like a kitchen, garden, gallery, and more!
Ongoing; i.d.e.a. Museum; www.ideamuseum.org
Young@Art Gallery: Visions ‘16
A great chance for kids to see the masterpieces of their peers! Visions is a unique teen program in which students and teachers from six Valley high schools meet monthly for artist-led workshops, studio visits and gallery discussions. This annual exhibition reveals the ideas, knowledge and insights gleaned by this year’s cohort of students during the program focused on contemporary art and art making.
Through Sept. 18; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA); www.SMoCA.org
The Arizona Museum of Natural History (AzMNH) recently opened a fun new exhibition called DinoZone. This playful exhibition features hidden tunnels, slides, green screens and awesome murals. The smallest visitors can have their pictures taken on the top of a triceratops. DinoZone answers all your burning questions about dinosaurs, like what is a dinosaur, how old were they, where did they come from, where did they go? Plus, there are a lot of wonderful photo opportunities, too!
Ongoing; The Arizona Museum of Natural History (AzMNH); www.AzMNH.org