Skirball Cultural Center presents
Opening June 26, 2007

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90049 (Exit Skirball Center Drive off the 405)
(310) 440-4500, fax (310) 440-4595
Contact: Stacy Lieberman (310) 440-4578, or Mia Carino (310) 440-4544
Web site,

PHOTO CREDIT: Grant Mudford

New children’s and family destination offers fun, wonder and inspiration

LOS ANGELES—The Skirball Cultural Center announces the opening of Noah’s Ark at the Skirball—an innovative, delight-filled destination for children and families of all backgrounds—on June 26, 2007. Inspired by the ancient flood story of Noah’s Ark, which has parallels in hundreds of cultures around the world, this indoor and outdoor attraction offers a multi-sensory, interactive experience. It invites visitors to board a gigantic wooden ark and to play, climb, build, discover, nurture, problem-solve and collaborate alongside handcrafted, one-of-a-kind animals. These range from life-sized elephants and giraffes to snow leopards, flamingos and iguanas—186 species in all.

Five years in the making and occupying an 8,000-square-foot gallery space, Noah’s Ark at the Skirball will remain on view permanently. Affirming that people must work together for a brighter future, Noah’s Ark is integral to the Skirball Cultural Center’s educational mission to explore Jewish heritage with the goal of making connections within and among families, generations and cultures.

The galleries are divided into three distinct and lively zones embodying the central themes of the Noah’s Ark story:
- Storms (meeting challenges),
- Arks (finding shelter and community)
- Rainbows (creating a more hopeful world).

The Noah’s Ark galleries were designed by Seattle-based Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (OSKA), in consultation with the Skirball’s renowned architect, Moshe Safdie.  They feature interactive exhibits and experiences conceived by an in-house Skirball team, with Marni Gittleman as exhibit developer. The lofty ark spaces are populated with hundreds of fanciful animal puppets and figures, many of them kinetic. These have been created by Brooklyn-based designer/puppeteer Chris M. Green and by OSKA principal Alan Maskin, in conjunction with the fabrication house Lexington.

Outdoors, the Noah’s Ark experience continues in a rustic arroyo garden with narrow paths and wooden bridges, featuring a rainbow mist installation developed by Safdie in partnership with MacArthur prize-winning environmental artist Ned Kahn. In addition, performances and special activities will be presented regularly in an adjacent 350-seat amphitheater.

“The Skirball Cultural Center was founded as a tent of welcome, where visitors of all ages and walks of life feel at home and part of a community,” says Dr. Uri D. Herscher, Founding President and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center. “With the opening of Noah’s Ark at the Skirball, we are honored to offer a safe harbor—an ark—for children and families, a place that offers them a joyful, meaningful experience like no other.”

Herscher continues, “The ancient flood story communicates a cogent message that our world desperately needs at this time—we must collaborate to survive and thrive, learn from the past and appreciate the gift of new beginnings.”

The Visitor Experience

Noah’s Ark at the Skirball is conceived as a journey, taking visitors on an ark voyage from a stormy world to dry land. Visitors are welcomed into a pre-flood zone, offering hands-on opportunities to make thunder, rain and wind using low-tech, mechanical sound devices and invented instruments. Upon entering the galleries, visitors  mingle with pairs of life-size animal puppets from the five continents, all crafted from recycled materials—or, in many cases, everyday objects such as bottle caps, bicycle parts, baseball mitts, croquet balls, mop heads and rear-view mirrors.

While continuing to interact with the animals, visitors will help construct a floor-to-ceiling ark, load animals two by two and climb aboard. They will help the animals settle in, unpack shipping crates, climb rafters, feed the animals, clean up the living quarters and work together to keep everyone on board safe.

The ark also displays examples of Noah’s Ark–themed folk art from a collection gifted by philanthropist Lloyd Cotsen to the Skirball’s distinguished museum. These colorful objects from countries around the world underscore the universality of the ancient flood tradition.

Noah’s Ark at the Skirball culminates in a post-flood zone, where a special light feature transmits a rainbow across the gallery. Here, visitors can participate in facilitated activities to be scheduled throughout the year, including art making, storytelling, nature experiments, creative movement and spontaneous daily “happenings” initiated by a corps of multilingual gallery staff. Visitors can express their hopes for a better world and see them projected onto a large wall in the final gallery.

Upon exiting the gallery space, visitors encounter additional activities and performances in the adjacent amphitheater. As a final flourish, visitors can play in the soft mists emitted by the rainbow installation in the arroyo garden.

Noah’s Ark is intended to be a destination that families and school groups return to again and again, with certain elements changing over time. Programming, ark props, folk art displays and games will rotate regularly. In addition, field trips for pre-K through second grade students will be offered during the school year, as well as after-school visits for students in renowned Los Angeles–based programs like Para Los Niños and L.A.’s BEST.

“We aspired to capture the best of art and children’s museums, cultural centers and parks,” remarks Sheri L. Bernstein, Skirball Director of Education. “And we have tried to create an experience that is both contemporary and timeless, that inspires people of all generations to work together to improve our world.”

About the Skirball Cultural Center

One of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions, the Skirball Cultural Center opened to the public in 1996. Its mission is to explore the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. The Skirball seeks to welcome and inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity, to build a society in which all of us can feel at home.

The Skirball features an extraordinary museum, changing exhibitions, engaging music, theater, comedy, film, family and literary programs, classes, Zeidler’s Café and Audrey’s Museum Store—all in a hillside setting designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. More than 500,000 people visit the Skirball each year. Its acclaimed school program annually serves over 50,000 students and teachers, of which 85% are from public schools.

Noah’s Ark at the Skirball will be open Tuesday–Friday, 12:00–5:00 p.m., and weekends, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Admission to the Skirball Cultural Center, including Noah’s Ark, all galleries and changing exhibitions, is $10 General; $7 Seniors and Full-Time Students; $5 Children 2–12; and free to Skirball Members and Children under 2. Advance tickets to Noah’s Ark are not yet available for purchase. The public is advised to visit for up-to-date visitor information. For further information, the public may visit the Web site or call (310) 440-4500.

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