That's a Wrap

October 7, 2013

Exploring Architecture: Family Day at the Hammer on September 8, 2013 was the third annual Family Day, a large event of art-making, music and fun based on one of the Hammer’s special exhibitions. This year’s Family Day was themed on architecture, and coincided with the last day of the A. Quincy Jones exhibition. The goals of Family Day are to bring creative, exhibition-based and hands-on educational activities to a diverse and multi-generational audience. This year’s Family Day was supersized; we had more artists and more projects than we have ever had before, and were able to explore architectural questions in depth.

The activities were so successful in a way because they were so simple yet so focused. Each architect and artist came up with a question to explore in their activity that related to architectural thinking about space, light, scale and material, from “What is a home?” to “What shapes make structure?” The diversity of activities that kids participated in, from pinning stories about their neighborhoods to a giant map of Los Angeles, to creating a model of a home, to constructing a giant collapsible tower, all underscored architectural concepts in fun and exciting ways.

One such project was able to have a life beyond the Family Day event, and delighted even more children and their families, thanks to a collaboration between the Hammer Museum, Whole Foods Market Westwood, and the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. Architect John Umbanhowar of Hughes Umbanhowar conceptualized a project in which kids would decorate hundreds of six-foot-long cardboard tubes with colorful tape, strips of vinyl, string and fabric to create an altered view of the space around them. After working with kids to decorate hundreds of tubes during September’s Family Day, John created a lean-to frame structure that is now installed on the Child Life Terrace of Mattel’s Children’s Hospital. It will only be up for a few weeks, but has created so much excitement, discussion, and color in that place. The lean-to combines tubes made by Family day participants as well as those made by pediatric patients and their families.

We had a small event on October 2 at the hospital with cupcakes and water donated by Whole Foods Market Westwood (who also helped fund the making of the structure), and the kids and their families at the hospital were having a great time. They examined the structure, asked questions of the architect, pointed out the tubes they made to one another, and made popsicle stick versions of their ideal homes. This project, though temporary, has solidified a number of excellent relationships in the neighborhood that will continue. The lean-to will remain on view until October 8.  --Sue Yank, Associate Director, Academic Programs