Children’s Museum feature takes fun to new heights

Adventure Forest opened June 3


The colorful and towering structure rising above Interstate 25 behind the Children’s Museum has been inspiring wonder in passing commuters for months now — it’s called Adventure Forest.

And now, you can climb all around the darn thing, or at least send your youngster scampering up there to explore for you.

Adventure Forest is what the museum describes as “a brilliant, BOLD, 500-foot-long aerial adventure course and immersive art installation.” The museum’s resident artist Wes Sam-Bruce used nearly every inch of the installation with his artistry. He describes it as:

“Part Artist’s Vision,

Part Naturalist’s specimen collection,

Part mystic’s dream in a desert cave,

Part explorer’s travel journal,

Part humanist’s community project,

Part child’s magnifying glass,

Part storyteller’s living metaphor,

Part poet’s love letter to the world...”

Whatever adults want to call it, the children who got to explore the ‘forest’ during a recent preview day declared it fun. In 20 minutes of checking out its many features, everyone seemed to be smiling.

The museum’s newest addition has been under construction for more than a year and was being dreamed up as a concept three years ago.

Chris Van Dyken, the museum’s director of exhibits, said Adventure Forest began as two separate concepts — a set of slides and a ropes course — that gradually merged into one and kept growing in scale.

“But even as we planned it,” Dyken said, “I wanted there to be another dimension there.”

That’s when Sam-Bruce began developing a rich backstory to bring the structure to life, and shaping its many decorative elements. He also wrote out a story for the forest, involving many animals of the natural world, humans and their complicated relationship. It is told on a series of 10 story plaques scattered throughout the forest, as well as in secret messages that inquisitive forest-goers can decode.

“This Adventure Forest, that is now alive, took a lot of work, a lot of effort from a lot of people,” said Children’s Museum CEO Mike Yankovich, at the May 16 preview event. He thanked all the donors and project partners, including the anonymous main donor.

Yankovich said that much of the project credit belonged to Van Dyken, who wanted “to take the notion of childhood, what it felt like to climb a tree, what it felt to connect with nature, what it felt like to have an immersive art experience.”


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