A friend traveling abroad recently posted a video of her children in an interactive art museum with the caption “Probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” The good news for those of us in the DC area is that we don’t need to hop a jet to have the same experience – we just need to make it over to Artechouse in Southwest DC.
In case you haven’t heard the buzz about Artechouse yet, it’s a gallery that displays exhibits that incorporate art, science, and technology and artists who use technology as their primary medium. Exhibits are always immersive and usually highly interactive as well. Exhibit themes change every few months and the spring for theme is appropriately cherry blossoms. The exhibits in In Peak Bloom are all very family-friendly.
The centerpiece of In Peak Bloom is a large room with interactive blossoms covering three very large walls. Visitors can make the blossoms move and spin by moving their hands. For those who wish to just watch, several over-sized bean bag chairs are scattered on the floor. This exhibit also features a mirrored floor which makes you feel as though you are completely immersed in a field of flowers.
Another large exhibit area focuses on the story of the Moon Rabbit. Using an app downloaded on your phone or a device provided by Artechouse, visitors can follow the story of animals who appear in the room and watch their story unfold. My kids also really liked interacting with the room itself, which included blossoms that can be rearranged, two large zen gardens with rocks and sand, and large balls of yarn that can be wound and unwound near a tree.
Off the main gallery, there are several other exhibits. One room features a cherry blossom tree that blossoms only when two or more people stand in front of the tree and hold hands with one another. Once this connection is made, the music in the room changes and the tree turns pink and fills with flowers. When hands are released the tree turns to black and white and the music changes immediately. Another exhibit features traditional Japanese shadows that appear to move in the wind. Next, there are three real, hanging plants that light up and play music when touched gently. There is also a smaller exhibit by a local artist of a light-up cherry blossoms and a display of blossoms near a traditional Japanese bench.
Artechouse always makes a fun family outing. Even after having seen several exhibits, my kids (ages 4-12) are always amazed to experience the art at Artechouse, which provides an experience not available anywhere else. In Peak Bloom is particularly fun for kids.
Artechouse also makes a great date night or Moms Night Out destination. After 5:30 each night Artechouse turns into a 21+ venue. And yes, there is a bar complete with Cherry Blossom-themed drinks. Kid-friendly drinks, including one with cotton candy, are also available. There is also an augmented reality component to the drinks that is fun to watch.
- Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children 14 and under. Military ID holders, students, and seniors are $13.00. Note that these are the online prices with slightly higher ticket prices if purchased on-site.
- Tickets are sold for timed admissions to keep the number of visitors at any given time limited. However, if you are late you will still be allowed in although you may need to wait for the next group entry.
- You can stay as long as you like and the average visit is about an hour.
- There is metered parking near Artechouse as well as several garages.
- The Wharf DC is a short drive, or about a five minute walk, from Artechouse. Make a day of it by grabbing lunch or dinner at one of the Wharf’s many restaurants after your visit to Artechouse. Flippin’ Pizza and Starbucks are on the same block at Artechouse.
- For Augmented Reality activations, make sure to download the free ARTECHOUSE app from Google Play or iTunes Store before your visit.
- There is plentiful on-street metered parking nearby as well as parking garages. It is also close to the Smithsonian metro stop.
- Before entering the exhibit, visitors are asked to wait for a short time in the lobby for the rest of the group with the same timed entry to arrive. Visitors are then asked to head downstairs (by steps or elevator) to listen to a short introduction to the exhibit. Visitors are also asked to put protective covers over their shoes to protect the mirrored floor in the main exhibit space.
- No strollers are allowed in the exhibit, but there is stroller parking provided.
- One portion of the exhibit requires visitors to take shoes off so plan accordingly!
- In Peak Bloom runs from March 20th – May 27th 2019.