This week What’s Up for Kid’s was able to get a sneak peak of the Nature Connects exhibit at the South Coast Botanic Garden which is scheduled to open Friday, February 19th and is presented by Los Angeles Magazine. Imagine huge colorful toy sculptures and spring blooms coming together as you stroll through the gardens. This is Southern California’s ONLY stop on a National Tour of the award winning exhibit created by New York-based artist Sean Kenney. Over 500,000 LEGO® bricks went into creating the 27 larger than life, nature themed sculptures. Just to give you an idea, the Hummingbird sculpture in the photo was assembled from over 31,565 LEGO® bricks! The exhibit is not just for passive viewing, there is an interactive component that will engage families. Visitors will be invited to download a customized mobile app to unlock “hidden” facts and a map about each sculpture while walking through the garden.
I had a chance to speak with Brandon Dawes, Coordinator, Education and Programs at South Coast Botanic Garden. He guided me through the special Imagination and Play Activity Center which is designed to give young visitors a chance to enjoy some creative play in between exploring the exhibit sculptures. Parents will appreciate the cool air conditioned area that offers a chance for everyone to relax a little. The activities include a raceway where kids have a chance to build a car with special LEGO® bricks and then race them down a track specially designed by an aerospace engineer to demonstrate S.T.E.A.M principals. There is also a comfortable reading lounge where kids can read selections specially put together by the Palos Verdes Library District. There is also a mosaic wall and creative bricks building area for more hands on opportunities for kids. Parents may notice the tables and chairs in the Imagination and Play Activity Center are sized especially for young visitors, with seating for parents and caregivers intentionally placed a little bit away from the play area. Brandon explained this is intentional to allow children freedom and space to be creative.
It was apparent thoughout the preview that the staff at the garden is very excited to be bringing this exhibit to Southern California and the South Bay! South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation CEO, Adrienne Nakashima offered some insight into what she hopes visitors will take away from this experience. She says, “In bringing Nature Connects to South Coast Botanic Garden, we hope to share the importance of making connections with the natural world. More importantly, with the garden’s commitment to providing a unique horticultural and wildlife habitat experience, we want to invite everyone to get connected with nature and encourage imagination and play though the familiarity of LEGO® toy bricks.”
Plan your visit today, Nature Connects will be on display from February 19th through May 8th! For more details about Nature Connects, visit www.southcoastbotanicgarden.org.