Nature’s Gift: Human, friends, and the unknown is the name of the new exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, but since that’s not very descriptive, I thought I’d go there to investigate and help you understand why you want to bring your kids.
First, note that there is plenty to enjoy at the Oakland Museum, even for little kids, because outdoor spaces and hallways are inherently fun to explore. The Nature’s Gift installation begins with a dark hallway at the end of which an undulating light panel invites you to cross the threshold into a new space.
Inside, the large, dimly-lit room is dominated by a huge inflatable form, which changes in light and color as you look at it. As you approach, the scale of the shape becomes more impressive; children and adults can walk within it and are invited to sit down and relax inside, taking in the sensations of sound and sight for as long as they like.
One edge of the room is occupied by a long aisle of hammocks. Yes, you may swing on them.
Another area features a conversation pit. And beanbags abound. Guests can drag them around the room to situate themselves in different spots.
While adults might spend 10 or 15 minutes taking in Nature’s Gift, I predict children will spend a lot longer, as they will want to explore every corner and snuggle into every tunnel. Toddlers who need to be followed around will be happy to exhaust their caregivers, while older children’s chaperone’s will likely hunker down in a hammock or a beanbag and observe as their little scientists test every surface in the room.
LA-based artists FriendsWithYou, creators of the adorable new Netflix series titled True and the Rainbow Kingdom (produced by Pharrell Williams), are the people behind the project, and their intent is to “promote magic, luck, and friendship.”