Normally, the words “toddlers” and “art gallery” go together like peanut butter and toxic waste, but I recently discovered a jaw-dropping exception: Living Digital Space and Future Parks, an immersive, interactive digital art exhibition at the PACE Art + Technology gallery in Menlo Park.
I had been witnessing a curious transformation of the gallery over the past few months as I drove back and forth along El Camino—including blackout coverings over the windows—but wasn’t really sure what was going on. Turns out, teamLab, a renowned Japanese art collective, was busy preparing a 20,000-square-foot digital playground showcasing 20 works, some of which are making their North American or international debut here in the Bay Area.
Okay, that all sounds compelling, but it doesn’t exactly scream, “kid-friendly,” right? Not so! The exhibition is divided into two separate buildings, one of which is completely geared toward kids of all ages. On that side, there are very few items and surfaces that can’t be groped by not-so-delicate little hands, and your little ones will be immediately mesmerized by ever-changing, floor-to-ceiling art works that use hundreds of projectors and motion detectors to respond to visitors’ movements and touch.
Long tables in the middle of the room put the kids (and their parents) in the role of artist, by allowing them to color special sheets of paper that can be instantaneously added to the moving landscapes using digital scanners set up along the walls of the gallery. And yes, we tested it: it works even with crazy toddler scribbles; no need to stay inside the lines here.
Little ones are welcome on the “grown-up” side, too, though the staff asks that you keep them from touching most of the art works. One stunning exception is a self-contained room filled with hundreds of digital butterflies and flowers that gravitate to where visitors are standing. Feel free to touch, run, jump and spin around in crazy, delirious circles—all of which we did.
I don’t want to give too much else away, and words hardly do justice to the digital marvels on display. Suffice it to say that I was patting myself on the back for days afterwards for providing my kids with an experience unlike anything they—or I—had ever seen. We’ll definitely be back again before the exhibition closes on July 1, and I encourage anyone within driving distance to do the same. Look for us in the butterfly room!
For ticketing details and visiting hours, click here.