Two Awesome New Exhibits for NYC Kids: Shipwreck! and the Art of the Brick
While Shipwreck! has closed, The Art of the Brick reopened due to popular demand. This review is from its original NYC run. A few weeks back I highlighted Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure and The Art of the Brick in my post about the best museum exhibits for kids opening this summer. Now that they're both on view at Discovery Times Square, I decided to check them out with my eight-year-old son. We were so impressed and surprised by what we saw, I wanted to share our experience,
While we definitely enjoyed both exhibits, my favorite was the awe-inspiring Art of the Brick, an amazing collection of statues made out of Legos by Nathan Sawaya. As I suspected, my pirate-obsessed son preferred Shipwreck!, an interactive nautical history lesson that includes lots of info about plunderers and their booty. Since the exhibits are on display through January in the same place, it's easy to see both in one day. Bonus: If you buy a combo ticket to both installations, you save money, too.
Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure
This exhibit is now closed. Odyssey Marine Exploration, which helps to bring sunken ships and their treasures back to land, is behind this cool nautical exhibit. Shipwreck! tells the story of three ships lost at sea during different eras. You learn why they went down, who they were carrying and even get to see recovered treasures like Civil War-era coins and bars of silver from World War II. There are also mundane items like bottles, crockery and an old folding ruler, which give a peek at what life was like during various periods in history. Odyssey Marine Exploration's high-tech robotic arm that retrieved these artifacts is also on view.
Of course my son was more interested in the hands-on stations. He got to look through a telescope, check out a simulation of an underwater archeological dig and steer a virtual boat through a hurricane. The World of Pirates was probably his favorite part. The area looked like the interior of a ship and had info on Blackbeard, Capt. Kidd and other famous swashbucklers. Plus there was a cannon, a nautical knot tying station and other pirate-themed interactives.
The Art of the Brick
Much less hands-on but still a wonder, this exhibit showcases Nathan Sawaya's incredible sculptures, all made from Legos. It's the largest retrospective of his work to date with more than 100 pieces on display. The show is organized into ten themed sections, notably Paint by Bricks, replicas of famous works of art like Michelangelo's "David," the Venus de Milo, Van Gogh's "Starry Night," Klimt's "The Kiss" and the "Mona Lisa" are uncanny. My jaw literally dropped—I still can't believe he was able to build such beautiful pieces out of the same little plastic bricks my son plays with. (My kid even asked me, "Do you think I could do this?" My response: "Start practicing.")
Other highlights include the works in the Long, Long Ago section like an enormous Moai Easter Island Head, a 20-foot long T.rex skeleton (made of 80,000 bricks!) and a miniature Parthenon. He also builds everyday items like a giant pencil, a rotary telephone and a bright red apple. My son's favorites were in the City of Dreams section: "Crowd," a busy street scene with a secret image hidden in the chaos, and "Yellow," a bust of a man with Legos bursting from his chest. The last room contains Lego sculptures submitted by the public including children. It's pretty inspiring!
The only downside to The Art of the Brick is that there's just one semi-interactive element: The chance to write your name on a Lego and stick it on a free-form sculpture. So if your kid needs hands-on building fun, you're probably better off visiting the new Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester.
Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure closed in January 2014. The Art of the Brick is on view through Sunday, September 14 at Discovery Times Square, 226 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. In advance: $19.50 for adults, $16.50 for children ages 4-12.
Find out about other awesome exhibits for family in our Museum Guide.
Photos courtesy of Discovery Times Square