Wonder-Full: The Exhibit You Need to See Now

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After two years and a major renovation, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery has reopened to the public. But if you’re expecting a bastion of hushed voices and art that you have to stand 20 feet away from, think again. With its latest exhibition, “Wonder,” the museum has strayed somewhat from its typical displays of furniture and folk art, featuring instead, Instagram-ready work from nine major contemporary artists that are interactive (think: human-size nests that you can crawl through) and visually interesting (think: a bug wall). Read on for tips on making the most of this awesome museum.

renwick4Photo: Ayren Jackson-Cannady

When to Go
The musuem is open everyday from 10 am-5:30 pm; go anytime–the renovations included an opening up of the entire infrastructure resulting in an airy, more spacious feeling (there’s even ground floor stroller access). For an overview of what you’re looking at bring yourself and bigger kids to one of the daily tours (12 pm), where you’ll learn a little about each installation and its artist. Note: The Renwick is across the street from the White House, so expect throngs of tourists over the weekends.

renwick-gallery-2Photo: Samantha L. via Yelp

Don’t Miss
You’ll want to venture through each room of The Renwick. We promise, if the littles (or you!) don’t get distracted it will take no more than an hour to see everything. But different age groups might appreciate different installations. For example, babies love Janet Echelman’s “1.8,” a 96-foot installation hung from the grand salon ceiling (it’s like a giant crib mobile). Bigger kids will get a kick out of “Shindig,” where artist Patrick Dougherty used willow oilers and saplings to create large pods that people can hideaway in. Everyone will love “Plexus A1,” by Gabriel Dawe, a cool indoor rainbow prism made entirely out of thread. And don’t even get us started on Jennifer Angus’s “In the Midnight Garden,” (aka “The Bug Room”) where the wall patterns are made out of 5,000 dead insects. Yes, really.

renwick5Photo: Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Good to Know
You and your art crew might want to check out this Insta-famous exhibit sooner than later–half of it will close down in May 2016 and the other half in July 2016, to make room for the museum’s permanent installations. P.S. If you work up an appetite while exploring the museum, you need to just walk outside where there are a slew of kid-friendly sandwich shops–Potbelly, Taylor, GCDC–right across the street.

Have you visited The Renwick yet? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. 

–Ayren Jackson-Cannady

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