Exploring Local History

23 08 2012

This summer we’ve been writing about how the Museum is creating an archive that will live on a computer. We’re doing this by digitizing things!

Digitizing is when you take something non-digital (like a paper letter or a print photograph) and turn it into something digital that lives on a computer. People use things like scanners to create a digital copy of something. We have a scanner here at the museum that we’re using to digitize things like old photographs.

Why do people digitize things? When something like a photograph is digital, you can do lots of cool thing with it. We found a neat website recently that is using old, digitized photographs in fun ways.

Historypin lets you explore cities by looking at old photographs. The cool part is that all of these photographs are put on a map, so you can see how familiar places used to look a long time ago. You can find pictures of Austin dating back to the 1800s on Historypin!

Another site that lets you explore maps and old photographs is Sepia Town.

Try exploring places you’ve visited and see how much things have changed over time.


Let Us Know What You Think: Blog Survey

28 06 2012

We want to know what you think about this blog! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out this short survey. The first 25 respondents who leave their contact info will receive a “Keep On Coming Card”,  good for 12 admissions to the Austin Children’s Museum.

We already know a lot of cool stuff about our readers – just by looking at the site stats on from WordPress, we know that we’ve had visitors to our blog from over 100 countries, just in this week!

Completing the survey about the blog will help us understand who is reading the blog and why you visit. We want to be able to write about the topics you are most interested it, so let us know what type of posts you’d like to see in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Awesome Works of Art Influenced by Children’s Toys!

15 04 2012

The imaginations of today’s contemporary artists seem to have no limits. Artists are able explore the wonderful world of children’s toys by creating gigantic masterpieces that are very fun to look at! Some incorporate discarded toys, and others create large-scale balloon dogs or Lego’s. Here are some of our favorite artworks that share a wonderful child-like imagination:

1. Jeff Koons, “Balloon Dog” and “Puppy” (1994-2000): Created out of stainless steel with a mirror finish, Koon’s balloon animals range from 43 feet to 10 feet tall. In 1992, he was commissioned to create “Puppy”, a sculpture of a white terrier puppy covered in a variety of flowers.

2. Peng Hung Chih, “Little Danny” (2001): Little Danny was created with 660 wind-up dogs that start yapping and moving when you enter the room. Chih was interested in presenting the world from a dog’s perspective to visitors that enter.

3. Hans Hemmert, “German Panther” (2007): Standing at an amazing 31 feet tall, “German Panther” was created entirely out of balloons. At the end of the exhibition, the balloons were popped!

4. Florentijn Hofman, 42-foot tall toy rabbit (2011): This giant yellow bunny was created using local materials and craftsmen in Sweden. Located near St. Nicolai Church in the city center, people can walk up to the sculpture and admire its enormous size.

5. Robert Bardford, “Fairy Too”: The sculpture is created using his own children’s old toys, all coming together to make a masterpiece of unique materials.

6. Joe Black, “Made in China” (2011): Created from more than 5,500 toy
soldiers, Black’s portrait is of a Chinese soldier (taken from a photograph by
Robert Capa). All of the toy soldiers were created in China, hence the title.
When the viewer stands back, they see just a portrait. However, if you move
closer, you can see the incredible detail of different color toy soldiers!

7. Ego Leonard’s “Lego’s” (2007-2011): This wonderful, weird mystery Lego seemed to appear out of no where on a Florida beach one day. Standing at 8 feet tall, weighing 100 pounds, the Lego adds a playful and magical moment to a beach visit.

Do you have a favorite work of art? Leave us a comment and share your pick!

Cardboard Creations: Caine’s Arcade

10 04 2012

Here at the Austin Children’s Museum, we strive to equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers. Every now and again, we come across something that inspires us and reminds us how impactful hands-on creative exploration can be. Today, we discovered this video, about a 9 year-old boy in East Los Angeles who made an arcade out of cardboard.

Lean more about Caine at his website, www.cainesarcade.com, where supporters can also contribute to his scholarship fund.

We are so inspired by Caine’s creations that we’re already planning to host some cardboard arcade making activities at the Museum.

Can you build a game out of recycled materials? What design solutions can you come up with (we love Caine’s hook-and-yarn claw machine!)?

International Guitar Month

4 04 2012

International Guitar Month 2012

Guitars are highly popular  musical instruments. They have been around for many many years and have only developed into much greater sounding instruments since. Guitars can come in different shapes and designs, all chosen by the musician.

The Acoustic guitar have been used for thousands of years. The sound and tone of the acoustic guitar relies on the vibration of the strings which are then amplified by the hollow body of the guitar.

The Electric guitar however, was not introduced until the 1930’s. This guitar can be used with an amplifier to allow the player to change the volume and electronically manipulate the sound of the guitar.

Electric guitars can range in the amount of strings that they have. String amount can vary between 1 (very rare) to 12 strings. Some guitars even have two necks and twelve strings!

(Print and color this image and then add as many strings as you like)

César Chávez Day

31 03 2012

Did you know March 31st is César Chávez Day? This day is celebrated in Texas, Colorado, and California!

César Estrada Chávez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona and passed away in 1993. He was a Mexican-American farm worker, leader, and civil rights activist who pushed for the development of labor unions for workers. He eventually formed the National Farm Workers Association (along with Dolores Huerta), later becoming the United Farm Workers (UFW) to fight for better wages and better working conditions.

His aggressive but nonviolent approach made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with widespread support throughout the country.
Chavez was charismatic and self-taught. He created a community that came together by inspiring well educated Latino idealists and encouraged them to offer a liberating  devotion to the farmworkers’ movement. His slogan is “Sí, se puede!”, which means “Yes, we can!”

In 2008, President Barack Obama stated:
“Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”

April Fools Day

30 03 2012

With April Fools Day just around the corner, here at the Museum we have been trying to come up with different ideas for fun jokes and pranks that you could try out on your family members and friends.

After looking through many different pranks on the internet, we found a very simple but very funny prank. ‘Sponge Cake’

Who doesn’t love cake? But how many people have been given a real sponge cake?

For this prank, all you will need are:

  • Sponge
  • Scissors
  • Frosting
  • Sprinkles (Optional)
  • Marker

To start, take your sponge and use the marker to draw a cake sized circle.

Then carefully cut (or ask an adult to cut) the sponge so you are left with the circle.

Spread the frosting over the sponge, completely covering the sponge so that no one will be able to know what is really under the frosting.

Decorate your cake with sprinkles to make it seen even more desirable!

Finally, just sit back and wait for your victims to come and try to eat a piece of cake! Watch for their reaction as they find out that it is in fact a sponge under there!