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Fun at Future Sketches at Artechouse
Artechouse has been a must-do for DC area families ever since they opened two years ago. The concept has been so successful that Artechouse has expanded to Miami and New York in that short period of time. If you have not yet been, Artechouse is a unique exhibit space that explores the intersection of art and technology in unexpected and fun ways that makes the exhibitions accessible to children.
Future Sketches is full of exhibits that showcase well how people can interact with technology to create art as well as opportunities to just sit back and enjoy. The first, biggest room is full of every-changing images ranging from colorful patterns to bold black-and-white graphic pattens to images of Charlie Brown. In this room, visitors pull up a bean bag and watch the images projected onto three of the room’s walls for as long they like. The images are also reflected onto the exhibit space’s floor making it an immersive experience.
Off the big room is a smaller room where visitors can try their hand at changing the code for the exhibit in that room to create their own art using technology. Although the lines and lines of code may look intimidating at first it was interesting to see how changing even one word can drastically change what appears on the screen.
Next, off the other side of the big room is a long hallway with several interactive exhibits perfect for enjoying with kids. There is a large microphone that picks up on changes in sound, including claps, snaps, words, harmonies and just about anything you can think of to change the pattern and shape on the screen. If you are able to carry a perfect note the screen will turn a solid color while a clap results in a big rainbow circle. Surprisingly, thanks to this exhibit I discovered that my daughter is able to sing a perfect note. There are also two light tables set up where visitors can move shapes and letters around to create projected patterns. One of the exhibits allows visitors to change the appearance of the screen with the touch of a button.
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The final room is dedicated to art and technology as it relates to faces. The exhibit in this room begins with a short history of how early scientists would measure facial features to try to determine if predictions could be made about someone’s future or if their ideal spouse could be determined. Spoiler alert: none of this was possible. The rest of the exhibit explores how far facial technology has come and how it can be used.
While facial recognition technology is not part of the exhibit, there is one camera that determines your mood based upon measurements of your facial expression, another that takes your photo and then combines your features with those of other visitors to make new, believable faces, one that makes your face into cartoonish features, and several others.
Most of the highly interactive exhibits are made for one person at a time but since Artechouse limits the number of people in the exhibit at any one time there was never a lot of waiting and there was no waiting for several stations.
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After seeing the exhibit we headed to the bar for some $5.00 Mocktails, which were delicious. For this exhibit, Artechouse’s bar tenders will ask you your preferred flavor profile and customize a drink based upon your answer. My kids and I wound up with some great Gingerbeer, a refreshing Mango drink, and a blueberry lemonade. Not only were the drinks tasty, but my kids loved playing with the provided Etch-A-Sketches and taking in the birds-eye view of the big room. Because I was driving I didn’t have a cocktail but the ones I saw being enjoyed by other patrons looked very good. As a bonus, every drink comes with a mixer or coaster that can be activated by the Artechouse app to make your drink come alive.
Good to Know
Future Sketches is great for kids, but it also makes a great date night or Moms Night Out destination. From 6:00 – 11:30 pm each night Artechouse turns into 21+ venue.
- 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.
- There is stroller parking available in Arthechouse but no strollers are available within the exhibit itself. There is also a changing table available.
- 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 with the next group.
- Although tickets are timed, you can stay as long as you like and the average visit is about an hour. For Future Sketches, you may find that you stay a bit longer since there are so many exhibits that allow for interactions.
- 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.
- Future Sketches will be showing through March 1, 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.