Embarking on a “Mission to Space” at the Children’s Museum of the Arts
There’s something about outer space that simultaneously captures our wildest imagination and speaks concretely to the present. The night sky has hosted a proxy war between countries racing to the moon for national prowess; astrology and star signs are a common means that many use to relate to one another. And as climate change threatens the Earth as we know it, some have begun to look beyond our own planet for the future of humanity. Space ignites in many a sense of majesty and hope. Me? Space is cool, but living in New York, what I think is a star is actually—nine times out of ten—just the 8:45 shuttle from Dulles. A newly discovered planet that could potentially support life? That’s exciting, but did you hear the A train is running with delays?
Despite my preference for Earth, I was still intrigued by the Children’s Museum of the Arts (CMA) “Mission to Space,” an exhibition of works dealing with the final frontier. The show deals both directly with the cosmos (as in
First though, I sampled the evening’s beverages (wine and boxed apple juice), and found the curator. “At CMA, what we like to do is design shows that are not just family friendly, they’re for any generation,” CMA curator Jil Weinstock tells me. “We want to elevate the experience, we show work that’s challenging,” The show presents the works of notable contemporary artists like And as is customary at the museum, the show also includes sketches by children (the CMA has the country’s only permanent collection of kid’s art, with images that date back to the 1930s). A drawing of a house labeled “Space Club” was a personal favorite. “I like the juxtaposition between established contemporary artists and work by children,” said Weinstock, who sifted through some 2,000 works in the museum’s collection to pick out some that fit the theme.
As I stood in front of a work that looked like what could be a
Next, I spoke with Marilyn, an eight-year-old aspiring chef (“I’m a cook and I’ve been interviewed by a TV producer”). She voiced some enjoyment for
I found Oscar, also around age six, by two small
After asking every child present (who wasn’t in a stroller) for their thoughts, I finished my visit at the clay bar—a bar where you can make sculptures out of clay, guided by trained artists (I made a rocket ship that better resembled a flying space mouse). Upon leaving, it felt like I’d been there for hours, and I expected to walk out into New York at nightfall. The show had made me actually excited to get a glimpse of what few stars you can see in this town. But I was wrong; as I left I was met with the blazing sun. Alas, mercury is in retrograde.
Isaac Kaplan is an Associate Editor at Artsy.
“Mission to Space” is on view at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York, Sep. 13, 2016–Jan. 15, 2017.