Fun with Arts and Science: Two New Museum Exhibits in Atlanta

Looking for something to do in Atlanta? Lucky for you, both the High Museum of Art and Fernbank Museum of Natural History just opened new exhibits.
  • Robots assembled these tables in the Joris Laarman exhibit at the High Museum.
    Robots assembled these tables in the Joris Laarman exhibit at the High Museum.
  • Some versions of these Joris Laarman makerchairs are available for download as open-source design.
    Some versions of these Joris Laarman makerchairs are available for download as open-source design.
  • Enter Fernbank's "The Secret World Inside You" through the light room.
    Enter Fernbank's "The Secret World Inside You" through the light room.

Two exhibits have opened in Atlanta, one at the High Museum of Art, the other at Fernbank Museum of Natural History. The High exhibit is a mind-blower, all about the mash-up of art, technology and science. The Fernbank exhibit is all about the ecosystem that is our bodies.

High Museum of Art

While the entire exhibit, “Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age,” may well blow your mind, the piece de resistance that is the last stop in the exhibit definitely will do the job. A spinoff of Joris Laarman Lab – it’s called MX3D – is using 3D printing and robots to build an actual footbridge that, when finished later this year, will span one of the oldest canals in central Amsterdam.

Laarman is a Dutch designer who thinks in algorithms and uses them as a tool much in the way a mechanic would use a more traditional tool. To say he thinks outside the box doesn’t quite describe the way Laarman works. It’s more as if he first creates a newfangled box then thinks outside that.

Here’s some of what you’ll see at the High exhibit:

  • Digital Matter is a series of tables constructed by a robotic arm using thousands of tiny building blocks called voxels. They are quite decorative and pretty. Fun tidbit: The table designs reference the Rococo period, but the ornaments – little flowers and clouds -- come from the world of Super Mario, the video game character.
  • Makerchairs are 12 chairs assembled like 3D puzzles from modular elements produced using relatively small and affordable machines. Good to know: Some versions are available for download as open-source design.
  • Credit brooch, made of gold, copper, nickel and epoxy, hides an embedded chip. Get it? You could wear your credit card on your favorite blazer.

The Joris Laarman exhibit runs through May 13. In conjunction with the exhibit, the High is marking the first weekend of each month throughout the exhibit (so, March, April and May) as a time to celebrate making, tinkering and experimenting just like Joris Laarman does in his lab. On each of these weekends the High will host a different duo of Atlanta makers who will demonstrate their talents and host hands-on activities in the Robinson Atrium.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History  

The curators have done a masterful job of making an exhibit about bacteria, viruses and other microbes that live inside each of us fun and, um, easy-to-digest. Enter “The Secret World Inside You” through a glittery light gallery that casts tiny lights on everything including you, then progress at your own pace, stopping at information signs along the way, each presenting facts about the human body.

Learn that the microbiome could play an important role in common health problems like allergies, asthma, obesity, and even anxiety and depression.

Among many things you will learn are these tidbits:

  • There are more microbes in and on your body than there are stars in the Milky Way.
  • Billions of microbes can live in a drop of water.
  • Microbes are vital to your digestion, your brain and your immune system.
  • Inside the womb, a developing baby is almost completely isolated from Mom’s microbes. Most babies get their first dose of microbes while traveling through the birth canal
  • Your brain is in constant two-way communication with a “second brain,” your gut. Gut disorder is often associated with depression, and microbiomes may be involved. Some bacteria release chemicals that depress the human nervous system. And, some studies say that probiotics might help.    

Be sure to stop in the special exhibit specific gift shop as you exit. There are plush toys representing organs such as your skin, your thyroid, your brain and so many more including the “heart of gold,” which is a heart-shaped plush toy covered in, what else, a shiny gold fabric. 

“The Secret World Inside You” is open through May 6.

For more things to do in Atlanta, take a look at our 50 Fun Things.  And for more new things to do in Atlanta, check here and here.  

Journalist Carol Carter writes and edits for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.     

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