The Art of Play

As any well-meaning parent who has tried it will tell you, dragging the kids to an art museum can be a real disaster. To start with, everywhere you look is a sign saying "Don't Touch." There's nothing for them to do but just look at stuff. The little ones want to dive into things and play, not just stand back and "appreciate the works." They get bored and cranky, and pretty soon "museum" starts sounding like a particularly bad word. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is looking to change all that with the opening of "Almost Warm and Fuzzy" on Saturday, October 7.

The exhibit has plenty of imaginative stuff for all ages. The show is designed to let children and teens find reflections of their own experiences while still giving museum-savvy adults plenty to enjoy. Filled with 40 installations and pieces of all descriptions by 30 contemporary artists, this is an exhibition unlike anything previously seen locally. Loads of interactive and just plain active works will be on display. The Bubble Gum Station by Charles Long invites everyone to dig into a big ol' pile of pink clay and create whatever they want while listening to music on headphones. Sandy Skoglund's Shimmering Madness is an environment of (literally) thousands of jellybeans that shimmer beautifully in the reflection of fluttering butterfly wings. The Art Guys return to SMOCA with the world's largest working nose, The Big Sneeze. (Wanna guess what it does?) Get ready for snow angels, stuffed turkeys, big rats, comic book heroes, fairy tales, science fiction weirdness and really cool computer games.

If all that isn't enough, there is also the COMPAS Rumpus Room, with even more interactive activities that expand on the themes of the artwork on display. Every kid through the door gets a 24-page activity book (in both English and Spanish), a souvenir entry badge and a poster that does double duty as an exhibition catalogue. And did I mention all this is in a MUSEUM?