We were given tickets to check out the new SPARK! exhibit at The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake City. We have visited this museum before, but felt like it was a little advanced for our young kids. This trip proved much different. The museum looks a lot different than the last time we were there with lots more hands-on activities geared for all ages. The new exhibit is also hands-on and fun.
The newest exhibit at The Leonardo is called SPARK! It invites you to Ignite Creativity and asks “What will you make possible?” There are a bunch of different sections that help encourage creativity. Most have an artistic display and then a chance for you to create this type of art, too. The first stop we made was an art station. They have created a Love Wall where people can paint squares and have them added to the wall. Our boys were very excited about painting. The art station also has lunch bags for decorating. An artist has created fun artwork on lunch bags that are displayed, so our boys took a turn creating their own lunch bags. I wish I was artistic so I could decorate their lunch sacks for their daily lunches.
The main feature of this exhibit is a nest made out of sticks that you can go inside. There was also a table to fold origami paper cranes. They had a computer where those with some technological background could create their own origami–we were not very gifted at this station. They had some famous paintings hanging on the wall and we had fun guessing who the artists were. Here you could draw with chalk in a frame so that you could leave your artistic mark like these famous artists did.
The Utah Reflections winners are displayed in this exhibit as well. Our children always enter in some category of Reflections so it was fun to see the winning entries for all ages.
Our favorite section was the music section. There were all sorts of instruments made from many different materials. Our boys really loved the drum set made from buckets and other items. We spent a lot of time exploring this section. There were also many other instruments for exploring. Our kids loved this section so much, that the next day, our middle child created his own drum set from items in our house. It’s exciting to see that this exhibit actually “sparked” some creativity in him.
Also on the first floor of the museum, is the Leo Studio. This section has 5-8 different activities for children to create their own artwork. There was a green screen that was fun for making silly pictures, a place to create movies by moving objects a tiny bit at a time, a table to make flowers out of paper strips and bamboo skewers, a weaving table using fabric or paper, and a table focusing on optical illusions (this one was our favorite). We really like that the children can explore what interests them and can usually make something to take home with them as well.
I’m not sure what all the exhibits are called upstairs and I left my map at the museum, so my labels might not be accurate with what the museum calls them. This was the area that had changed the most since we were last there.
The first exhibit we visited was a science section. Here we watched a few science experiments and read some science questions and answers.
Then we visited the Pixel Playland. This is fun for the younger crowd to explore with colors. There are blocks to build with and large pillows to lounge on, which for some reason our two year old loved!!
There is a new section that they are beginning to develop that had large Legos, as well as pipes and their connectors. This was one of our favorite places to visit. All of our children (ages 8, 5, and 2) enjoyed building with these two different mediums. We can’t wait to see what else they add here for exploration.
There is a water exhibit that dad and our oldest walked through, and also an art exhibit called “No Fixed Address” that we didn’t walk through, mostly because we were running out of time. There is another exhibit that talks about inventions that were invented right here in Utah–we looked at this exhibit last time, but skipped it this time. These are all exhibits that change after a certain period of time.
Our boys wanted to spend the last part of our time in Leonardo’s Workshop. This area focuses on building and creating. We had fun making our own marble run. We also tried to build circuits (mom is not good at this). You could create items to fly through the air tunnel. There were also bolts, wheels, and other building items where you could create using tools. This area was fun for all our boys and I was glad that no matter their age, they were able to explore here. In fact a lot of the activities here reminded me of Discovery Gateway’s Children’s Museum.
We had a wonderful time at The Leonardo and we were impressed with the changes made to make this museum more hands-on and available for all ages. The one thing that disappointed us as we made our way through the museum was how unhelpful the staff were. We were there on a Saturday afternoon and there were not many people there. Often we were the only ones in a certain exhibit, but no one ever offered to help us or show us something. One of the things that we always watch for on our adventures is the friendliness of the staff, but The Leonardo did not impress us at all. There was someone in each room, but not one person said one word. Hopefully it was an off day, and this will be better for you. Despite the fact that the workers didn’t help with our creativity, we still had fun exploring.