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Carsten Hller: Experience

Six things to check out at the New Museum exhibit.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

  • Photograph: Attilio Maranzano

    Carsten Holler at the New Museum

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Carsten Holler at the New Museum

The Belgian artist Carsten Hller began his career as an entomologist so it's no surprise that some visitors to his new exhibit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art may feel like insects walking in some sort of experiment. Equal parts laboratory and fun house, the installation has some decidedly adults-only parts. (Steer clear of the Giant Psycho Tank, a heated pool where clothing is optional.) But kids will want to make sure they don't miss these hands-on, mind-bending activities.

Untitled (Slide)
The twisting, 40-foot-high, 102-foot-long slide—built from transparent plastic—extends from museum's fourth floor to the second. Museum goers at least 48-inches-tall are given burlap sacks to ensure smooth sailing down the slide, which provides a five-second, gasp-enducing ride. (Rider tip: Brace yourself for the last curve—it's the fastest!)

Aquarium
Kids experience what it's like to float in the middle of the ocean without scuba diving when they lay down and tuck their heads into Hller's Aquarium. Fish swim above them as they listen to the sounds of waves. Nearby, they can check out Hller's colorful animal sculptures, including a orange crocodile, yellow rhinoceros and blue reindeer.

Experience Corridor
Holler's celebrates his experimental side with a hallway full of contraptions. Curious kids can smell Love Drug (actually phenylethylamine), watch their noses elongate in The Pinocchio Effect or see a virtual reality with the help of 3-D glasses in The Forest.

Mirror Carousel
Once seated, museum goers 48-inches tall (or shorter, if accompanied by an adult) see their reflection on all parts of the carousel. The movement is so slow and the mirrors so captivating that they may wonder which is spinning—their seat or the room itself. Before leaving the room, don't miss the Singing Canaries Mobile with live birds inside. 

Infrared Room
It may take a few seconds for kids to recognize the three ghostly images they see in front of them in this room, but once they do, they'll have fun making their likenesses bounce and move. 

Upside-Down Goggles
Tykes wearing the wacky headpieces watch as the ceiling and floor flip for jaw-dropping effect. Mom and dad should stick close by, though, as kids learn how to walk in the altered reality. 

"Carsten Hller: Experience" at the New Museum of Contemporary Art runs from Oct 26 to Jan 15, 2012 (212-219-1222, newmuseum.org).

 

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