Friday, May 23, 2014

Days 4 and 5: Hiking in the Rockies and museums in Denver CO

We are having a blast in Colorado and have fallen a little behind on the post. I'll be combining days 4 and 5 in this post. Late on our 3rd night we arrived in Colorado. One of my good friends (and former roommate) from Athens, Umar, and his girlfriend, Ashley, moved to Colorado and are letting us stay with them. There house is relatively close to both Denver and Boulder, allowing us to explore both cities. The day after we arrived (day 4) Umar and Ashley took us out to Estes State Park (in the Rocky National Park) for a hike in the mountains. Throughout the entire duration of our hike we were walking on and through 3-4 feet of snow (sometimes more). The views throughout our hike were breathtaking and at times the scenery seemed to be fake; below is one of our favorite sights at Dream Lake.
The hike in the mountains completely wore us out (and Jeni got a little sick) and we crashed early to save up our energy to explore Denver on the following day. On the 5th day of our trip we ventured into Denver. Our first stop was at the Denver Museum of Art. I spent the majority of time researching and observing the museum's displays, signs, and interactive versus non-interactive displays. For the most part the museum was not interactive and there were security guards in every room and lots of signs and lines for people to stand behind that were all restricting to the art viewing experience.

Below are some of our favorites  from the museum's collection; a miniature Yixing teapot and a Shoji Hamada incense burner, and tri-vase by Betty Woodman. 
To my surprise the museum did offer a large number of playful 'interactive stations' to help people better understand the artwork both technically and conceptually. Although the studio stations were mostly geared for kids I did enjoy them. Below was my favorite. Next to a large artwork by El Anatsui's there was a workstation that allowed people to clip and attach scrap metal to create a sculpture in a similar fashion.
Another studio workstation. I particularly loved the sign leading into the station. "The Studio is a different kind of place for adults..."
Another interactive component. One of the most controversial pieces in the museum allow gallery visitors to learn more about the piece through a series of questions and answers provided on cubes that can be pulled in and out of it's cubby. 
I found the piece below very interesting. On the outside of the room there is a sign that states the artwork is interactive. In a way the artwork was interactive because I could walk around and sit down within the room. But in reality the artwork was not what I consider to be interactive. This piece was definitely lacking in terms of participation and gallery visitors helping contribute to the final outcome of the art.

After the Denver Art Museum we finally made it to the History Colorado Center. I received a small scholarship from LSU to visit the museum after I wrote a proposal based around the interactive components of the museum. And sure enough just about every area had interactive components. I'll walk you through some of my favorite parts in terms of my research (museums and interactivity). 
As we first walked into the museum we were greeted with a large map of Colorado on the floor and a time machine. There were golden dots throughout the map and visitors were able to push or pull the Time Machine to various spots (the golden dots) and then the pilot could set the time machine to a certain date and pull a lever to start a video with interesting information on each date presented in story form. 
Our favorite part of the museum was the ski jump! It was a game that taught you the correct body movements and gave you the opportunity to jump. We both scored gold metals!
Below is another interactive station. We were inside of an old store and I could use a touch screen to select items that could actually be bought from the store. The program allowed me to search for clothing for men or female as well as various groceries, goods, and services. Included with each option was further information, including the prices.
We got to drive a Ford model T. The car moved with the video we were watching. In the video the car was driving through a prairie with a group full of kids talking. The car's engine, door opening off, and outdoor wind were all part of the experience.    

TAKE COVER! BLASTING IN PROGRESS! To help visitors further understand the importance of safety within the coal mine and blasting dynamite. There was a memory game with three different difficulty levels. On a screen, a blast pattern was presented and then I had to push the dynamite into the wall in the correct order. After all the dynamite was pushed in I pushed on the plunger to trigger the blast and the screen displayed two different videos depending on wether one wins or looses. I won on medium and lost on difficult.
I caught Jeni at one point milking a cow. The directions were, "correctly milk the cow to fill the bucket with light." And as you pull on the utters the bucket starts to light up.
 I added myself into a yearbook from th 1800's. 
They even had an interactive pottery learning station! To practice drawing on pottery visitors could dip their brush in water and brush onto a bisque ware pot. The brush strokes remained visible long enough to practice drawing and erased fast enough that multiple patterns could be tried.
Thats it for Denver! Look for our next post on Day 6: Boulder. 

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