Playground Themes and Childhood Dreams, Revisited


This weekend, I set out to explore the area around the Virginia Square Metro station and see something in the neighborhood other than the George Mason University Law Library, where I spent many long hours last summer writing case briefs, learning new words, and fighting with photocopiers.

I visited Arlington Arts Center, a historic site that now houses art gallery space and classrooms. While walking through the building, I learned about the Chronoecologists, who set out to artificially simulate experiences like sunsets, sea breezes, and the sound of the ocean and, through time travel, take these simulations to future times when humans will have destroyed the environment and its beautiful natural phenomena. (I don’t think my explanation does the concept justice. I am not sure I understand it fully.)

In other galleries, I saw amazing photograms of mushrooms; Tiffany windows that were once part of Arlington National Cemetery; and a book of photos that each had one cute dog and one naked woman, which, admittedly, I also didn’t really understand.

Spielschiff, outside Arlington Arts Center

Spielschiff, outside Arlington Arts Center

The foyer of the building is currently filled with the work of Phillip Adams: black and white drawings of mountains featuring one or a few full-color additions like a flagpole, a Ferris wheel, and playground equipment. In front of one large sketch is an actual bright red swing (and a sign advising visitors not to sit in it). In other words, it is an example of playground equipment in a work of art.

Outside, there is a permanent piece of artwork that is also a playground for children – Spielschiff (or “Play Ship”) by Bonifatius Stirnburg. The “interactive play sculpture” is a ship-themed piece of climbing equipment with a ladder and crow’s nest among its parts. It is yet another example of the themed playgrounds topic that I recently explored.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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