Aurora: The Spirit of Northern Lights at Artechouse

Seeing the Northern Lights has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, but with four kids at home it’s not likely I’ll get to see them anytime soon.

Because of this I was thrilled when I learned that Artechouse’s new immersive exhibits this winter are centered on giving the DC area a true Northern Lights experience – minus the freezing cold which is fine with me.

For those not familiar with Artechouse, it is a unique experiential (and family-friendly) exhibit space that explores the intersection of art and technology in unexpected and often fun and beautiful ways.

Their latest exhibit, Aurora: The Spirit of the Northern Lights creates an other-worldly experience in four distinct rooms. The largest room in Artechouse, and the first one you will see, has a snow-white floor with white trees and bubbles projected onto three walls with a backdrop of the colors of the Northern Lights.

This room is very interactive and visitors are invited to move their bodies to watch trees grow and sway. A slight hand movement in the right place will cause a bubble to burst and turn into snowflakes. There is also a giant ice-like sculpture in the middle of the room.

Off to one side is an all-white ice cavern where icicles appear magically under your feet as you walk. To the other side is a large, long hall that has been transformed into a magical ice forest at night with lights that move under your feet and icicles lining the way.

At the end of the forest there is a room that has been darkened except for the glowing Northern Lights that appear all around you. This room is filled with large beanbags and visitors are encouraged to settle in and enjoy the ever-changing lights.

At the end of the exhibit there is also a documentary about how the exhibit was made. I thought it was interesting, although my kids did not have the patience to sit through the whole thing.

My kids loved all the exhibits. We spent the most time in the large room with trees and bubbles that move as well as the smaller ice cave. My five-year-old especially loved watching icicles appear under his feet then disappear.

My older children, aged 9 and 11, were fascinated by the Northern Lights and a trip to see them is now happily on their bucket lists as well! All together we spent a little over an hour exploring the Aurora exhibit, but some families may find that they spend much longer.

This Artechouse exhibit is great for kids, but it also makes a great date night or Moms Night Out destination. From 5:30 – 11:00 pm each night Artechouse turns into 21+ venue. And, yes, there is a bar!

Good to know:

  • If you go, tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children 14 and under if purchased online. Children under two are free. Prices are higher if purchased onsite so we strongly recommend buying online.
  • Tickets are sold for timed admissions to keep the number of visitors at any given time limited. If you are late, you will still be allowed in.
  • Although tickets are timed, 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. It is also within walking distance of the L’Enfant Plaza and Smithsonian metro stations.
  • Aurora will be showing through January 5, 2020. Artechouse occasionally extends exhibits so if you can’t make it before then check back as you may still have a chance to go.
  • Before you visit download the Artechouse app. The app can be used to create more augmented reality experiences with the Artechouse logo and drinks.
  • 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. There is also a pizza restaurant on the same block as Artchouse.

Artechouse provided tickets in exchange for a review but all opinions are our own.

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OK Editorial Team

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