July 19 2016 03:13 PM

Former local Wes Sam-Bruce creates world’s greatest clubhouse at New Children’s Museum

The Wonder Sound
Photo courtesy of The New Children’s Museum

In this semi-regular department, arts editor Seth Combs reviews a notable new art show or exhibition.

Every child deserves a clubhouse. If I'm to believe some of the stuff I've read online, having a clubhouse or treehouse teaches a kid valuable developmental skills like organization, socialization and creativity. I didn't have one when I was a kid. I'm also a slovenly, antisocial snob who can sometimes write a pretty sentence. So, yeah, touché Internet.

I'd like to think Colorado-based installation artist Wes Sam-Bruce also didn't have a clubhouse growing up. That's not to imply that the once local artist's installation at downtown's The New Children's Museum (200 W. Island Ave.) The Wonder Sound, isn't a monument of precision and creativity (it most certainly is), but rather it's so precise and creative that I can't help but imagine that it's been stewing in his brain since he was a kid. That his father or some authoritative figure once told him "no" and he's been concocting plans for his own elaborate playhouse ever since.

Made up of 30 rooms and utilizing everything from wood and rope to conveyor belts and spinning wheels, The Wonder Sound is a permanent exhibition that has been two years in the making and it was well worth the wait. While I was there, children as well as adults weaved in and out of the castle-like structure. Murals lovingly mixed with painted letters from Sam-Bruce's own made-up language which guests could learn in one room if they wanted to. I felt comforted that, because of this installation, an entire generation of local children might think of The Wonder Sound as their own personal clubhouse.

My only gripe is with the NCM itself, which opted to rent out the museum for a private event throughout the entirety of Comic-Con rather than letting what is arguably the largest influx of tourists to the downtown area enjoy the best exhibition the museum has ever had. I'll give NCM the benefit of the doubt, but to deprive the inner children of the Comic-Con crowds the opportunity to freely explore such an amazing exhibition is almost as bad as not getting a treehouse in the first place. Almost. thinkplaycreate.org


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