I want to admit that I was skeptical about driving to Gadsden to a cultural center. What will the drive look like, and will it be worth it? We went for the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit and FELL IN LOVE. The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts is a quaint and unexpected surprise. We jumped at the chance to return for the newest exhibit, The Art of Andy Warhol: and POP Art the Andy Warhol Studio.
The drive down is actually quite lovely. You can take a “quickie” route that is about 1.5 hours through Guntersville, Boaz, and Sardis City. Be prepared for a little bit of traffic and some lights. But, you are 431 the whole way. You can also opt for a more scenic route by taking a more Southern route. Be sure to map it, and then pack your snacks and supplies. One of my favorite things about this kind of trip is the sensation of “getting away”. The phone only came out for photos, and it felt like a mini-vacation.
Once you arrive, ask about reciprocal memberships as you may be able to get in FREE! The exhibit begins upstairs. For those who need an elevator, one is convenient just through the cafe. Your kids may stop off at the mini scale city for a little history lesson and train time! Mine think this is super cool.
The exhibit itself was what I would call, “bite size” meaning it is perfect for kids of all ages. In other words, if you want to introduce your little one to POP art, this is the place. Even my 8 year-olds seemed to feel it was a perfect length. It includes six original screen prints from Warhol’s “Myths” series that he created in 1981. There is also an educational video running for older children and adults who want to learn more about Warhol and his life and the times.
Interactive Warhol Fun
After we enjoyed the artwork, we returned downstairs to the interactive room. Just outside the exhibit is an interactive “silly faces” area where kids can take “selfie” videos which then project onto a larger wall collage. The four kids who were with me insisted on FILLING THE WALL. I have to admit that it was clever, fun, and engaging, and I have never heard so much laughter, planning, and coordinating.
There were costumes so kids could dress up like the “Myths” characters, tons of books on art and Warhol, an area to produce your own silkscreen, and an area to do a treasures box. Interesting fact: Warhol, for a period of time, would empty his pockets daily into individual boxes and store them as an art installation.
There were tables set up with various art supplies for free form stamping, drawing, cutting, and creating! This room also has a fun slide and ball pit. Our kid group ages 8-10 spent the entire morning exploring and enjoying the interactive exhibit. Note: screen prints are $1, but, bring food for the food drive, and get a print FREE!
Stopping for Lunch
“MOMMY, I’M HUNGRY!” Who feels me? We paused for lunch. There is a convenient cafe located at the center, and they tout being voted a best pick. We ventured out for a little stroll, though, and there are plenty of convenient places nearby as well.
We returned to explore Imagination Place. Let me say that this is a part of the museum that I heard about over and over and over again after our first visit. This is an interactive “town,” if you will, chock full of various rooms and businesses, and toys, and a reading center. Our kids played without pause for 2 hours and only left with us because we had to go. I’m curious if we went without a time restriction how long they might play.
For Etowah County residents, be sure to check out the Story Sport and Born Learning Trail and the benefits therein. And, don’t forget that Hardin does birthday parties! Want to take a school group? They can handle that too. If you have time, Hardin is situated in downtown Gadsden, and there are some fun little shops to explore.
This little trip is worth it! Take the time and get away with your littles or your bigs, have fun and learn something new today.
Art of Andy Warhol Details
Where: Hardin Center for the Cultural Arts in Gadsden (map)
Dates: August 15, 2015 – November 15, 2015
Cost: Admission is $8 and is free to Hardin Center members
View Website | Hardin Center on Facebook
Christa Landingham and her husband are Madison County natives and life-long residents. They have boy/girl twins and two crazy puppers. She loves all things teaching, organizing, and supporting local small businesses. In her “free-time” she loves to garden, travel with her family, volunteer, and comb local thrift stores. Pearl Jam is her jam.