Sunday, May 5, 2013

Noah's Ark at the Skirball - Second Chances

The Skirball Cultural Center, devoted to sustaining Jewish heritage, off the I-405 in Los Angeles, just north of the Getty Museum,  has an interactive Noah's Ark exhibit with the theme of second chances. We visited this past Saturday with three generations of extended family and had a wonderful time. The story of Noah and his ark conveys the message that even God sometimes needs a do-over, in this case, a second chance to make a better world. Most of the exhibit animals are made of discarded and reshaped second-hand materials. The message to us is that even when we screw up, we should not be discarded, but should be given and take advantages of opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to become something new, something useful. 

We started off, as a group, with a college-aged person introducing the Noah story and the theme of second chances. Wonderful vultures and flamingos flew overhead and a couple of  snipeish-type birds (made out of boxing gloves, paint brushes and oil lubricators) stared at us from the side. 

Vulture with a shoe body
Flamingo with a purse body
Snipes of boxing gloves, paint brushes and oil lubricators
We then moved into another room with a zebra with a key board mane, an elephant with a trunk of tambourine-like wood rounds and a deer with pitch fork antlers and a rear-end made of an old tractor seat. 

Down some stairs we found the ark with all sorts of creatures bursting from its frame, a giraffe, aardvarks, snakes, etc. 

Kangaroo with make-shift pouch

Entering into the ark through a doorway guarded by camels we found a room full of wonderful animal puppets (two of each): moose, turtles, rhinos, hippos, parrots, armadillos, and many more, with owls and other animals overhead. And as we were informed at the beginning, everything could be touched, played with and handled. 

Another passageway took us past many different examples of Noah's Ark in art into my favorite room with passage-ways up into the ceiling, including rigging similar to an actual ship, where the children, including big children, could crawl through mesh protected tunnels and pull a cord that caused the elephant to trumpet and stare down at the big people below. 
Walrus bench
Sloth hanging from a beam
Even bats made it on board
I'm not sure I would have included these on the boat if I was Noah.

Sitting on a Komodo dragon

Ella climbs the rigging into the rafters.
Savannah causes the elephant to trumpet.
Madison gathers courage to approach the elephant. 

Staring through the net at the big people below. 
Ella comes down a different way.
The last room was the outside of the ark on the other side, where the children were given an opportunity to make an artwork of their own out of discarded magazine pages, cardboard, crayons and glue. We were read a story about a clumsy giraffe that learned to dance and became the best dancer of all the animals, complete with accompaniment by drums. Then we had an opportunity to dance ourselves.
A zebra wants off. 

The dove has found leaves - it must be dry land!
It was a wonderful way to spend a few hours with family on a Saturday afternoon and connect in a different way. 


  1. I can't believe we hadn't heard of this place before. It's definitely a destination if you are visiting LA with young children. I've never seen anything quite like it! Such amazing creativity, both in the making of it and in the activities it offers for children.

  2. What a GREAT place! I love the idea of reinventing and second chances. Awesome!