Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Clay Center & Leonardo da Vinci-The Genius

I like to look at museums within driving distance when planning day or quick overnight trips to see if there's anything of interest.  When I saw that there would be a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit called da Vinci-The Genius, at the art/science museum The Clay Center in Charleston, WV, I knew we had to go!  We studied da Vinci last year for picture study, and Emory has studied that time period this year (though we had already chosen the Michelangelo biography from AO) so it was an excellent field trip opportunity for the kids.  The Clay Center is a member of the ASTC Passport Program, so it makes a great option for traveling families.

This was the first time we'd visited The Clay Center, so it was a new experience all around for us.  There is a planetarium and performing arts center that we did not check out, but also the Avampato Discovery Museum and the Juliet Art Museum.

Avampato Discovery Museum
This is an interactive science museum spread out over three stories.  My kids are 4, 6, 9 and 12, and I'd say there was something for everyone!  The younger kids learn through exploration, while the older kids get more out of the actual science behind it.

We went into the WaterWorks exhibit first, and my first thought was - we should have saved this for last!  We actually ended up making another stop there by special request before heading out.  You could use gears to raise balls to the top of the structure, then they would roll down a ramp and back into the other end of the water table.  You could build on the LEGO platform, or make "dam" like structures. Lots of fun ways to play with water!




The Music Studio was a lot of fun too.  You could conduct the orchestra with a Wii remote . . .




Or "play" these instruments and watch the sound waves on the screen.



The digital harp was a hit with my kids.  The "strings" would light up when you touched them.



There was a lot going on in the "Healthy Me" exhibit, which focused on the human body in motion, but I didn't get a ton of pictures.  The kids could measure their heart rate, or test their pitch speed while throwing a ball.  They got to examine the human body systems on a large touch screen table, or check out the skeletal system at work!  As you cycled, the skeleton did too . . .




There were three or four of these with different resistance on them, and you could try to pull yourself to the top.


This Climbing Sculpture was a lot of fun for the big kids.  It has a height requirement, so wihile the big kids did this, I took Eloise into My Town.



My Town was set up like a real community.  You could sit at the governor's desk, go to the bank, the mechanic, or other businesses, and of course ride a police motorcycle!



You could also climb into a firetruck and drive or climb up to the back to use the hose to put out the fire!  They even had costumes throughout the exhibit . . . but I'm not keen on sharing clothes and hats.



Eloise also spent a lot of time at the vet clinic - there were several cages full of a variety of stuffed animals to choose from (dog, cat, snake, rabbit, etc) and you could take them around the room to bathe, examine or take x-rays.  It was cute, but she was on the go the whole time and there were many children in and out, so I didn't end up getting any shareable pictures.


Measurement Rules! was really neat, and I think a temporary exhibit to look at many different forms of measurement.  There was a huge balance scale in the middle, and they could move cans of different items (feathers, lego, etc) to each side to balance it.

This one measured . . . how far or how fast you ran.  I can't remember.


This one tested the "1 Mississippi = 1 Second" rule.


Then this one turned you into cubes to measure volume.  Emory really liked it!


You could measure your height in apples, spoons, pennies or old fashioned milk bottles.  You could test the speed of a ball and rearrange the "maze" to test it again.  You could measure how many scoops (with different sized measuring spoons) it took to fill a container.


This had a lot of fun stuff, and we spent a lot of time in here, but it was one of the busier exhibits.


Juliet Arts Museum
The Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was upstairs in the art museum.  It was a large gallery with replicas and facsimiles of his works.  There were large size replicas on display . . . .



Smaller displays . . .



. . . and even several that were hands-on.

There was a room with da Vinci paintings and The Last Supper projected in a slideshow/movie style onto the wall.  Since it was ART and not hands-on science, it wasn't quite as kid-friendly (with a very active 4 year old) so we had to watch little hands and moved through a bit quicker.

Another area, Art Space, was much more hands-on.  There were tables with different types of blocks and building materials, magna doodle type toys, a "mobile" where you hang shapes to balance it, etc.  There was a wall that turned your movements into pixels.  It had a lot of neat stuff, but I didn't get many pictures here either, because we were all exploring together!


There was also a reading nook area with a variety of art books!






Overall, The Clay Center was a nice place to visit, and I would definitely return!




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