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Boonshoft Museum gets animated

Summer exhibit appeals to all ages

It’s hard to come up with an exhibit that will appeal to folks of all ages, but the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery has managed to do just that with its current show, “Animation.”

Whether you’re a grandparent or a kid, chances are there’s a soft spot in your heart for cartoons.

The touring exhibition, created by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Cartoon Network, will be in town through Aug. 25. It’s a colorful and entertaining look at the history, art, math and science of the animation process.

The exhibit takes up 6,000 square feet of space in the museum’s main exhibit hall and is filled with lots of exciting hands-on activities. Learning is even more fun when the teaching is done by Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones and characters from Dexter’s Laboratory, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Alien Force and the Powerpuff Girls.

“There you are, Viv! Up on the TV!” said an excited Diana Gerlach after her two daughters, Veyda and Vivian, ages 6 and 3, had been turned into an animation after dancing and hopping on the set of “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.”

“They’re overwhelmed!” said the Miamisburg mom about her daughters’ reaction to the new exhibit.

Plan to spend at least an hour-and-a-half when you visit. Chances are you’ll want to come back another day as well.

“Animation is not just cartoons, it’s all kinds of special effects,” explains the Boonshoft’s Kristy Creel, who says the exhibit is one of the best she’s seen in a long time.

Interactive stations

Here are just a few of the fascinating interactive options:

* Crank the wheel on the mutoscope and you’ll be re-creating the earliest days of animation. Grandparents may remember the little machine once found in penny arcades. Here you’ll be causing the spool of images to flip and reveal a W.C. Fields short film. It will remind you of flipping through a Rolodex.

* Rearrange the balls on the praxinoscope, then spin the rotating platform and mirrors to create a single animation.

* Animate yourself! You’ll be prompted to strike various poses as a camera takes 14 different pictures of you. When you — and your friends — are finished, you can watch yourself circle the screen. Very cool!

* In the Foley booth, you’ll create sound effects and synchronize them with the cartoon that’s being shown. You can also see how music affects an audience by picking different musical soundtracks to create different moods — suspenseful, sad, happy, romantic. And you can add your own voice to a silent animation; you’ll then hear yourself talking for the animated characters!

But wait, there’s more!

The whole family can also experiment with storyboarding, drawing techniques, character design. You can manipulate a horse to make him gallop, watch a Cartoon Network animator draw characters, experiment with stop-motion and time-lapse technologies.

When you’re ready for a break, you can sit and watch some cartoons. Take a seat on one of the bright whimsical couches in the Screening Room and view 15 minutes of popular clips that also teach about animation techniques and concepts. In the Hanna-Barbera Video Kiosks, you’ll see nostalgic films from the past 30 years: The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Huckleberry Hound, Fantastic Four.

Exhibit Created in Portland

Kevin Kearns, vice president of exhibits for The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, says his museum has developed dozens of traveling exhibits with the goal of developing experiences that engage people in science topics.

“What’s so cool about animation is that it’s relevant daily, it’s a tool that’s used by so many different groups,” he says. “It’s an area and topic that allows us to go far and wide.”

In the exhibit’s Science Laboratory, for instance, you’ll can explore the different applications of animation technology in fields such as genetics, space, paleontology, medicine and archeology.

“The exhibit ranges from the illusions to the finished product and explores all of the techniques,” says Kearns. “There’s an artist who talks to you about the process and invites people to make their own characters. What we want people to come away with is an understanding of how it works and the inspiration to make their own animations. “

He says one of the things he and his colleagues love best is when visitors get excited enough to invest their time and energy and make their own animations.

In one such activity, for instance, you can see how the movement of a background creates the illusion of a character’s movement.

Kearns says one of the key concepts behind the exhibit is the idea that your brain will fill in gaps between two different images. He says most animation uses about 24 frames per second which produces the perfect “apparent motion” effect.

“Your brain will make it appear to be fluid motion,” he says. “Your brain works to help the illusion function.”

Anna Moore of Eaton, who said she remembered coming to the Boonshoft Museum when she was a child, is now a nanny who brought two young children for a visit.

Concluded 11-year-old Natalie:“It’s really fun and interesting. It looks like you are frozen in mid-air!”

You can take a quick tour of the animation exhibit with voice artist Candi Milo by checking out

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