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Don’t Miss Dr. Gladstone’s Wonderlab At The Crocker

November 28, 2011

By Alyssa Green

I just love  the Crocker.  The folks over at our fabulous Sacramento art museum invited me to bring my kids to Clayton Bailey’s World of Wonders, currently on exhibit now through January 15, 2012.

This was a fun exhibit (albeit a little strange at times) for the kids to peruse.  Artist Clayton Bailey (self-proclaimed mad scientist)  has several robots on display, which of course were of great intrigue to the 3 boys I had in tow.  The robots, in a large range of sizes, including life size, are made of metal and/or ceramics.

In addition to the much loved robots, his inventions (artwork) include several other interesting  “machines.”  The boys loved running from one piece to the next…taking in the interactive contraptions.  Their favorite?  The Burp Pot.  That’s right, a pot with a “burping” creature inside.  If I tell you any more than that, it’ll ruin the experience.  You’ll just have to go see if for yourself.  You might even want to take one home…

The only drawback to the exhibit for my boys?  Not being able to touch things that were clearly begging to be touched.  Take for instance the wall of pop guns.  Now, I am not a gun enthusiast by any means, but I do know that guns naturally draw boys’ attention.  So…a whole wall of them?  Wow!

Luckily, their “itching” hands were set free in the extremely kid friendly creativity lab.  Named after the artist’s alter ego, Dr. Gladstone’s Wonderlab was just what the doctor ordered for busy hands not being able to hold back a minute longer.

Inside the lab, the kids were free to don lab coats and goggles, gather art materials and set their imaginations free to make whatever their little hearts desired…inspired of course, by the mad scientist himself.  When their creations were complete, they filled out a “patent” card, placed it in a mail box and will receive an official patent on their creation from Clayton Bailey himself.

Also inside the wonderlab is a magnetic wall, with all kinds magnetic items of which one can place together any which way to create a unique robot, machine or contraption.

The  most clever idea in the lab?  Unnamed artwork for which the artist invites the kids to name.  With sticky notes and pencils handy, anyone can study the artwork, come up with a name, write it on a sticky note and add it to the other clever name ideas from previous visitors.  It was fun to read the different suggested names and see how each piece is interpreted so differently, yet so pointedly by the children.

As with every visit, this one ended in the gift shop where there is no shortage of robot inspired items for sale.  Robot games, playing cards, pencils, wallets, keychains…etc.  The two 11 year olds I had with me?  They each chose miniature wind-up toy robots (go figure) to take home.

This visit to the Crocker was definitely the most interesting one yet for my kids.  I encourage you all to drop by with your future little inventors.  They’ll love it and so will you!

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