Tuesday November 13, 2012

WILLIAMSTOWN

If you're headed to the new Kidspace exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute opening this Saturday, beware -- there's a lion in there.

The taxidermy male African lion, on loan from Frank J. Zitz & Co. Craftsmen and De signers, is one of many eye-catching components for this first-of-its-kind exhibit at the Clark, "Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!"

The exhibit, along with the Clark's first "uCurate" exhibit, created by a fifth-grader, will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, as part of the museum's free family fun day.

Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, head of education at the Clark, curated the new Stone Hill Center exhibit as part of the museum's collaboration with Mass MoCA and Williams College Museum of Art under the recently expanded Kidspace umbrella.

This year, each museum will sponsor its own exhibition under the Kidspace theme of "Curiosity," with activities and arrangements designed for students in preschool through Grade 8.

"It's our opportunity to share our collection with younger audiences within the context of our own mission," Tulgan Ostheimer said.

For the new Kidspace exhibit at the Clark, Tulgan Ostheimer and a team of curators and preparators have transformed a portion of the museum's Stone Hill Center into a center of exploration of perspectives typically seen in art, living history, science and natural history museums.

The exhibit starts with a centerpiece: Pierre Paul Ruben's mural oil painting, "La Chasse au tigre" (1616). It's what Tulgan Ostheimer describes as a "fantasy" work, featuring an intense scene of struggle between men of different cultures and big cats -- a lion, tigers and a leopard.

"We think this painting encourages all kinds of discussions, including the kind between parents and kids about intense subjects," Tulgan Ostheimer said.

The work actually hangs at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Rennes, France. Visitors to Kidspace at the Clark will be able to see the French installation and its visitors through a video screen.

The exhibit also explores other themes of how people interact with animals. There is a hall displaying items and readings on falconry, a reading nook with bean bag chairs and animal books, even a local history exhibit on mountain lion sightings in and around Berkshire County.

In conjunction with the "Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!" exhibit opening on Saturday, the museum will also host a special event in its main building to honor the unveiling of "Giselle's Remix," the first exhibition created through the Clark's interactive uCurate program. The installation is the creation of 11-year-old guest curator Giselle Ciulla, a suburban New York resident, who has grandparents living in the Berkshires.