Orbis Pictus - Play Well: Make Some Noise on Funky Instruments at this Free Interactive Exbihit
The name of this new FREE exhibit at the Czech Center may sound highfalutin but Orbis Pictus - Play Well is all about, well, playing. Visitors are encouraged to bang, strum, bow, pluck and manipulate a variety of offbeat instruments to create a kind of sonic landscape. Kids can be as noisy as they want, and since the 16 pieces are made from sturdy materials like pipes, metal and wood, they can be hard on them, too. My daughter managed to break a mallet on opening night and no one even blinked!
In conjunction with the exhibit, the center is hosting a series of FREE all-ages workshops, where families can collaborate on audio and visual projects led by the artists. If your kids are too loud for traditional exhibits, Orbis Pictus - Play Well will truly blow their minds (and possibly your eardrums).
Named after a 17th-century picture book for children, Orbis Pictus - Play Well is all about tapping into your creativity. Kids don't seem to need any encouragement: The minute my six-year-old entered the cozy gallery and realized the works were meant to be touched, she went to town.
No musical experience or ability is necessary. It's fairly obvious how to play each piece. Favorites included an upright bass made from a wooden box, a series of xylophones fashioned from pipes, a harp chair and anything kids could beat with a drumstick, hammer or mallet—which included almost everything.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is Marianna Stranska’s "Marble Fall," a series of transparent tubes wound around the gallery’s white and red spiral staircase. Droping marbles down the tubes sets off a series of lights and sounds. Of course most kids just wanted to see if they could beat the marbles to the bottom (nope). Then they'd fill up the silver bowls with marbles and run back upstairs to try again.
During the 16-week exhibition, there will be four FREE family workshops where children and artists can work on sound, visual and motion installations. Not only do these sessions sound cool, they're the only time you can visit the exhibit on the weekends since Orbis Pictus - Play Well is normally only open Monday through Friday.
Sound and Shadow Play I
Saturday, June 30 3-5pm
Participants will collaborate with audio and lighting installations to create an interplay of shadows and sounds.
Sound and Shadow Play II
Saturday, July 28 3-5pm
More of the same.
Journey through Sounds
Saturday, September 15 3-5pm
Families learn how musical instruments are developed, from primitive noisemakers to classical and electronic music.
Perception and Imagination
Saturday, September 22 3-5pm
NYC-based singer-songwriter Eleanor Dubinsky will demonstrate the relationship between music and visual art.
Orbis Pictus - Play Well is on view at the Gallery of the Czech Center New York, 321 East 73rd Street between First and Second Avenues, through Wednesday, October 17. Open Monday, Wednesday-Friday 10am-5pm; Tuesday 10am-8pm. Closed on weekends. FREE