Tag Archives: The Torpedo Factory

More “Play” to Come?

Will there be more hands-on play at "Play"?


So, this is interesting. I just received a press release from The Art League about their Play exhibit at The Torpedo Factory.  This is the one I posted about earlier this week, that we had high hopes for, but upon visiting wasn’t quite what we hoped it would be.

I have no idea if they caught wind of my review and ensuing comments, or they independently decided to revamp the exhibit a bit.  BUT, it sounds like they are adding some features that elevate the art experience for kids. In fact, here’s the scoop on what’s coming as soon tomorrow, straight from the press release:

“Starting this weekend and continuing every weekend through the end of the exhibit (April 2), The Art League’s “Play” exhibit will include fun, hands on art activities for kids.

Activities include:

  • A child-height graffiti wall, made from gallery pedestals — grab chalk and make your own art!
  • A zinc plate for etching — anyone who leaves their mark can also leave their email address and pick up a free print of the finished etching.
  • A scavenger hunt based on the art in the gallery, with blank space for kids to make their own art.
  • A version of the Surrealist game, the exquisite corpse (“cadavre exquis”) in which different artists can contribute to a collective drawing with an unexpected outcome.

Grab the kids and swing by the gallery – no smock necessary!”

Everyone deserves a second chance, right?

The Play exhibit is on display in The Art League Gallery at The Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria through April 2.  Weekend hours are Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 12-6pm.  Admission is free.



Filed under Art, Free, Gradeschoolers, Indoor Play, Preschoolers, Toddlers, Virginia, Weekend

Minimal Play at The Art League’s New Exhibit

Playing with one of the few interactive pieces at the "Play" exhibit.


Penning a blog that includes recommendations for upcoming events can be tricky.  Obviously, if they are upcoming, I haven’t actually been to them. So, I have to base my suggestions on how they sound based on the information available to me. Most events and adventures that sound promising actually meet or even exceed expectations.  But every now and then, something doesn’t hit the mark.

Unfortunately, this was the case with The Art League’s new Play exhibit currently on display at The Torpedo Factory.  I posted about it twice last week, both in weekday recommendations and in the round-up of weekend activities.  The promo materials said it was a “juried exhibit exploring whimsical, playful works, the activity or idea of fun and play, or actual interactive works which encourage visitors to become involved in artwork on an entirely new level.”  The call for submissions encouraged interactive works that could be handled, added to, moved around. And it’s being presented with the art initiative Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Children and the Arts.

All of these things combined made it sound like art nirvana for kids. I pictured a gallery filled with cool, interactive art installations, my children happily playing with them and creating some of their own artwork.

So, we headed to Old Town yesterday afternoon, excited for something new.  When we first walked into the gallery, we saw a couple of pieces on a pedestal with a little “Touch Me” tag on the side, and the kids immediately headed over to play with a small, pretty diorama adorned with cut-out pictures and natural materials like twigs, feathers, and grass as well as a box of colorful blocks. It held their interest for about two minutes.  There were a few more interactive pieces hanging on walls (designated with the “Touch Me” tag), but they were too high for the kids to reach and didn’t offer much for them to do anyway. Needless to say, we were disappointed.

When I asked the woman working there about it, she explained that they don’t actually know what the exhibit will include until the last minute when the jury selects the works from the pool of entries submitted. And looking back at the press materials, I realize they didn’t really promise what I pictured… but it just sounded like it could have been all that and more.  All was not lost though. We enjoyed a stroll by the water and the gorgeous day, and the kids got an ice cream treat before heading back home.

In short: I won’t say that you shouldn’t see “Play” — there are some whimsical works to see, just not much to touch — but I wouldn’t make a trip to The Torpedo Factory just for the exhibit.  If you’re in Old Town and have time to spare, pop in for a look. But plan for some other fun activities, too.

“Play” is on exhibit in The Art League Gallery at the Torpedo Factory through April 2. Admission is free.



Filed under All ages, Art, Free, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend