By Brandy Black
One of the reasons I love being an urbanite living in LA is having access to a solid collection of museums, cultural events and special outings around the city. Living in a cultural city, my kids get exposed to so many types of activities that stimulate their senses and cultivate their imagination.
If you know me, you know I definitely have my favorite destinations that bring me back year after year and at the top of that list is the family-friendly summer amphitheater series at Skirball Cultural Center.
My wife and I rounded up all three kids and set out with another family who were visiting for their first time. Our kids squealed with delight at every turn, showing off one of their “favorite places ever.”
To make a day of it, we packed fruit, cheese, chocolate, a baguette and a selection of salads for our excursion. The kids danced and noshed to the eclectic sounds of merengue mixed with hip-hop and jazz played by an equally diverse band called Buyepongo while the parents kicked back and relaxed in the afternoon sun.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: when you live in a big city where you have to constantly monitor your child’s whereabouts, it is truly a gift to give them a huge space to run around in and to be free. It brings me back to my youth—a time that seemed boundary-less and infinitely explorable.
When the music ended, our fun didn’t stop. We went to the Skirball Family Art Studio to create kites with colorful ribbons. The kids loved designing their own unique creations that they could take home with them, colorful keepsakes to entertain them on summer beach trips.
But I think the true highlight for the kids was sharing Noah’s Ark with their friends. It always astounds me when I encounter a family that has not yet been to this outstanding exhibit! We spent a solid two hours exploring each room—creating a storm, filling the ship with animals, climbing through the maze way up top and sitting on giant gorillas inside a floor-to-ceiling wooden boat. The kids played, climbed and explored and naturally begged to stay past closing.
When we finally made it to the last room of the exhibit, I was blown away. As a family that treasures diversity and equality and works daily to promote understanding and celebrating our differences, Skirball’s “Love is Love” message was like walking into a giant hug. The display spans across the room with linked messages from children and parents of Los Angeles sharing what love means to them. Because we are an LGBTQ family, we recently had the breath knocked out of us by the tragedy in Orlando, and this simple, thoughtful gesture meant the world to us. When I asked what inspired the temporary communal activity, sure enough, I was informed that it was Skirball’s response to Orlando: they chose to respond with love. It brought tears to my eyes. This place that I already cherish and consider a community landing pad for my family was displaying their love for me and my family in letters larger than life. We sat at a table with other families and wrote our own messages of love that would link to the display, growing in numbers with one simple message: Love is Love!
Skirball, you have outdone yourself once again. The bar for family-friendly, hands-on, entertaining and positive enrichment just keeps on getting higher and higher. If you haven’t experienced Skirball, check out the upcoming summer amphitheater events, and be sure to add your love link!
We are proud that Skirball Cultural Center is one of The Next Family’s Sponsors.