Posted Aug 04, 2019
Modern Art is my family’s jam and we have been eager to experience ARTECHOUSE DC since CertifiKID highlighted the amazing space in a blog post earlier this year. However, making the trek from our home in Ellicott City to DC is a commitment, so when the opportunity presented itself this July, my two daughters (ages 11 and 13) and I were excited to finally have the chance to see what the buzz is all about!
Light summer traffic met us on our 35-minute drive to the New Carrollton Metro Station. New Carrollton was the perfect jumping off point for two reasons-
1. FREE parking in their on-site lots.
2. Direct access to the Orange Metro Line, which would take us directly to the Smithsonian Metro stop in southwest DC, which is the closest to the museum.
I haven’t taken the DC metro in ages but DC Metro's Trip Planner is THE BEST in getting you from Point A to Point B.
The museum is also just a short walk from The Wharf, with its excellent restaurants, boutique shops, and waterfront location. I realized a bit too late that pairing ARTECHOUSE with dinner at The Wharf would make for the perfect date night with my hubby! Add in ARTECHOUSE’s Augmented Reality bar stocked with an awesome drink selection of carefully curated cocktails and mocktails, local craft brews and Georgian wines using the oldest wine-making tradition in the world and well, I’ll have to return to experience After-Hours Admission (for ages 21+) in the future.
Since my girls and I were there during the day, we opted for lunch at Potbelly, conveniently located right next door to ARTECHOUSE. We had a 1:30 p.m. ticket time, which gave us a chance to walk around The Mall a bit beforehand.
The entrance to ARTECHOUSE is tucked back a bit from the street but is not hard to find. Once inside, they have a small waiting area where you check-in or purchase tickets and in this case, grab shoe covers (this helps maintain pristine conditions for the mirrored and glossy floors you’ll be walking on). You have to wait to be guided down the stairs by a docent so it is best to take that time to download the free ARTECHOUSE app. Definitely do this – it allows you to take photos throughout the exhibits and automatically adds in special effects to your images that are so fun to look at.
“Infinite Space” is the first major, retrospective of the award-winning LA-based, Turkish-born artist, Refik Anadol. Using computer data points, artificial intelligence technology, repeating patterns and some (difficult-to-fully-comprehend) computational extraction techniques, Anadol deconstructs and reconstructs data into fascinating images that roll out in 3 phases in the main exhibit space. We were lucky enough to have a few minutes with ARTECHOUSE’s exhibit guru, Josh, who is a wealth of knowledge and provided us a ton of background on this installation. Josh's advice: Be sure to stay for the entire 26-minute cycle in the main exhibit so you get the full rotation of images.
Spend as long as you like and take as many photos as you like (just no flash photography). If you're more interested in the process behind the exhibit, I recommend checking out the 10-minute behind-the-scenes documentary offer in the basement of the museum.
The main exhibit can be loud and at times you feel as if the room is moving (and you with it)! It’s a constant reel of computer memory-making. Sit back and spread out on oversized beanbag cushions. You literally feel transported by the experience as you lay back and take in the angles and the enormity of all that went into constructing this large-scale project. Everything you see is set to a playlist. Recommended for ages 6+, this installation is really geared for adults and older kids but we did see plenty of toddlers mulling around. Bring a sweater! We were in shorts and t-shirts and we were chilly.
The Infinity Room was a highlight for all of us. The small space only allows a certain number of people in at a time. So, once you enter the main exhibit be sure to walk down the stairs and over to the right and put your party’s name on the waitlist. They take down your cell number and text you when your turn is next.
When it was our turn, we were guided into a cube of mirrors – the first step actually plays a mind trick on you as you think you’re about to fall through the floor. We were told we had 2 minutes in the space and could stand, sit, lie down – whatever suited us. We agreed that having a small group only enhanced the experience. Your reflection and that of the folks you’re in there with is multiplied so many times it is difficult to know where things start and where they end. We liked it so much, we came close to adding our names to the waitlist again!
Mirrors play a huge role throughout the exhibition and we finished our viewing with a walk through the Data Tunnel 1.0, which is like a maze of mirrors. We were warned to be careful as we could potentially run into the walls but there were enough people walking through at the same time that this wasn’t a problem. Finally, we headed into the Infinity Boxes, full of ever-changing images that were so much fun to photograph!
On our way out of the exhibition, we stopped by the bar in the main space so my girls could enjoy a mocktail. My older daughter tried Tropical Universe, hand-crafted with pineapple, passion fruit, lime, and club soda while my younger daughter tried the sweet-tasting SALT which combined strawberry, lime, vanilla and club soda.
Each drink came with an augmented reality trinket so we opened the ARTECHOUSE app to see what would happen. With Tropical Universe the trinket was attached to the drink’s straw so through the app we saw the drink explode. The SALT drink had an accompanying flying saucer that sent images from the exhibit out into the orbit. We’ve never seen anything like it and were pretty impressed!
We are so glad we had an opportunity to explore ARTECHOUSE DC and definitely recommend adding this onto your next visit to our nation's capital!
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