ACM visits Architects of Air

17 01 2012

On Saturday, we took a field trip across Lady Bird Lake to visit the temporary art installation, Architects of Air. It was a unique and beautiful experience that we truly recommend. Architects of Air is made up of “luminaria” (but not those brown paper bags with a candle in them) – in this case, luminaria refers to giant inflatable sculptures that you can enter and explore. Inside the puffed up landscape, light and color bounce off the curved and domed walls.

Architects of Air from the outside.

The interactive sculpture has been to over 35 countries and 2 million visitors have passed through the colored walls. The space inside Architects of Air is inflated with surprisingly quite fans. The beautiful and immersive colors are created by sunlight passing through colored panes of plastic (much like the light passing through colored panes of stained glass in a cathedral).

Sunlight passes through the colored strips in the ceiling of Architects of Air, making the whole sculpture light up in many colors.

Architects of Air is set up in the field near the Long Center through January 20th. Admission costs $8, kids 2 and under are free. We recommend getting their early (they open at 10am daily) – and bringing something to entertain your group in line.

Visitors explore the passages and chambers inside Architects of Air.

Make a Paper Gingerbread House

30 11 2011

Burrrr… It’s going to get really cold, really soon. Christmas is just around the corner. When the temperature drops we like to be inside where it’s nice and cozy. If you don’t want to brave the cold weather just yet, stay inside like us and make a paper gingerbread house!

This neat activity, is half the mess of a real gingerbread house, and it’s free! You can practice all your candy decorating skills so that when you get that real cookie house, you’ll be a pro.

You can check out the Museum Dec 1st-23rd during Gingerbread House Workshops, where we’ll provide enough candy and gingerbread to make a mansion! Registration just opened,  so sign up all you gingerbread architects!

Download our at-home gingerbread activity here: Paper Gingerbread House and tell us how your gingerbread homes turn out!

Practice Pointillism

2 11 2011

So many dots!

Pointillism is a neat way of painting. The word itself: Point (dots) and ism (stlye) is exactly what it means, the style of dots. French artist George Seurat invented this time-consuming painting technique. Look at Seurat’s painting above from far away, it looks like a normal landscape painting doesn’t it? But once you get close to it you can see that the image is actually made out of lots and lots of tiny dots. Can you imagine how long that took?

When you view from a distance your eye blends the dots together, this is called optical blending. You can see this in Seurat’s painting The Eiffel Tower (pictured on the right). When you look at it, it looks orange, but really he only used tiny dots of red and yellow which your eyes blend to make the color orange. Instead of mixing the paint himself, he is making your eye do all the work!

This technique of optical blending, dividing the colors instead of blending them, was also called divisionism. Divisionism included pointillism, but an artist could create this optical illusion with more than the use of dots. For example, Vincent van Gogh used divisionism in his famous painting The Starry Night, instead of using dots he used lines. If you look closely you can see the lines from his brush everywhere, it makes it seem like the sky is moving.

If you want to practice pointillism and divisionism yourself, just print this coloring activity and use markers for the dots and lines: Artist Activity

Look how ours turned out:

Hang them up when you’re done and marvel at your masterpieces!

Fall Facts and Fun!

19 09 2011

Here at The Austin Children’s Museum we’re excited that Summer is leaving and the weather is starting to cool, which means autumn is just around the corner.

Autumn is one of the four seasons and it typically falls between September 21st and December 21st. Why is autumn sometimes called Fall then? Because leaves fall off of deciduous trees during the season. Here are some cool facts about fall leaves from LoveToKnow.  You should learn this before autumn starts and summer leaves!

  • Leaves require sunlight, water, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide to make food for themselves.
  • As winter approaches, leaves make a coating for themselves which blocks their water source; in the absence of water, the leaves no longer produce chlorophyll (chlorophyll is what makes leaves green).
  • When the leaves turn colors in the fall, they actually are returning to their normal colors. During the summer months, the chlorophyll in the leaves causes them to turn green, blocking the leaves’ actual colors.
  • Along with chlorophyll, leaves contain two other chemicals that cause coloring. The first is called xanthophyll, which is yellow in color. The other is carotene, which is orange in color.
  • Red and purple leaves are actually caused by the presence of sugars from sap that is trapped inside of the leaves.
  • Once the leaves have turned brown, they are dead and no longer receive any nutrients.

Leaves are pretty interesting right? They can even be used for art! Check out how we used leaves creatively in these activities:

Color one yourself: Leaf Man and Butterfly Leaf

And send us your leaf art!

Celebrate Family!: Make a Family Tree

7 09 2011

It’s just starting to cool off, and we all know summer is coming to an end. Heading back to school means less time with the family. So let’s celebrate family one last time before we get back into the daily grind

Here at The Austin Children’s Museum we celebrate family and demonstrate its importance in our exhibit En Mi Familia. En Mi Familia centers around the children’s book of the same name, written and illustrated by Carmen Lomas Garza. Check out the exhibit online: En Mi Familia and the book which inspired the exhibit

En Mi Familia teaches us to love our roots. And what better way to prepare us for our upcoming adventures in school than to remember our roots with our very own family tree!

To make your own at home, print out this cool activity: Family Tree

  • Fill in your family’s name at the bottom and the names of your brothers and sisters next to the empty leaves
  • Use ink to fingerprint your spot and have your family get involved by inking their own leaves too
  • Don’t have ink? Try using a washable marker: color directly onto your finger, then voila! instant ink
  • Use crayons, pencils or markers to color in the rest of the activity to add some fun
  • Hang in a spot you can see everyday, so you remember the importance of your roots

Be sure to visit The Austin Children’s Museum before En Mi Familia leaves September 18th, and send us your finished family trees!

Make Beautiful Paintings Using Marbles

15 03 2011

The feature exhibit gallery at the Austin Children’s Museum has been transformed into a rolling wonderland thanks to our latest exhibit, Ready, Set, Roll! We’ve been enjoying exploring all kinds of rolling objects, including golf balls, marbles, pennies, and much more. One of our favorite activities that involves rolling is Marble Painting. It’s easy and you can make great abstract art on your own.

First, put a piece of thick paper in the bottom of a shoe box or other container. Next roll a marble around in a puddle of paint.  shift the box  so the marble rolls across the paper creating an interesting design.

Next wash off the marble and repeat the process using a different color. Try to make curved or straight lines by experimenting with how you shift the box.

What is your favorite way to make abstract art? Leave a comment letting us know.

Ocean Art: Using Wax and Water

26 11 2010

Have you ever noticed water droplets pooling up on the top of leaves and dripping off? The waxy layer on the outside of leaves is called the cuticle and makes the leaves waterproof. This keeps moisture inside the plant, allowing the rain water to soak into the soil and into the pant’s roots.

You can see wax repel water through this art project.  I drew fish using crayons, markers and colored pencils.  Crayons are made from wax.

Then I painted over the picture with blue watercolor paint, so it looks like it is under the ocean.  You can see how the yellow fish repelled the paint. The purple marker smeared a little, because it was also water based and mixed with the paint.

Leave a comment letting us know what you discovered when making your own creation.

Salt Art Shows Evaporation

6 10 2010

Make a unique piece of art while learning about evaporation.

Put 1/4 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of warm water into a bowl. Stir the water and salt together with a few drops a food coloring.  You can make as many colors as you like.  Use a paintbrush to paint with the salt solutions.

Leave the painting out overnight. The water will evaporate leaving the colorful salt behind.

This is my painting before all the water evaporated.

Create a rainbow with water

29 09 2010

Do you remember when we learned about capillary action and how it causes water to go up a paper towel soaking into its pores? This new experiment uses capillary action to separate color pigment.

Cut a 2 inch by 5 inch strip from a paper towel or coffee filter. Draw a line across the strip 2 inches from the bottom using a washable black marker. Fill up the cup less thank an inch. Place the paper strip into the cup

Watch as the water travels up the paper towel carrying the ink from the marker. Different colors of pigment do not move at the same speed, allowing us to separate the colors.

This process is called color chromatography, and it shows the different colors that were used to make the black ink.  You can experiment using  markers that are a different type or color.

Make a rainbow color wheel

9 09 2010

Have you ever wondered what color you would get if you mixed all the colors of the rainbow? Make this cool toy to find out! We found this idea at Toys from Trash.

First, cut out a circle and color each section a color of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  Then, take a cup or plastic container and make a hole in the bottom with a pencil (a cleaned out yogurt cup works great – an adult might need to help poke a hole with scissors). The hole should be big enough to freely fit a pencil.

Poke a pencil through the center of the circle and place it through the hole  in the cup.

Spin the pencil, and watch the colors mix. When you spin the pencil fast enough the colors will mix together and it will look white.

What happens when you color alternating blue and yellow sections? Does it look green? What about if you try yellow and red or blue and red?

Color therapy for a drab winter

18 12 2008



Visit Idee’s Multicolor lab to search through thousands of pretty Flickr photos by color. You can select up to ten colors (I picked aqua and blood-orange). Just the thing for a grey, drizzly day!


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