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Wednesday 27 November 2019

Natura Obscura

If you've been following along for a while you'll know that I'm a big fan of interactive and immersive art exhibitions. The kids and I visited quite a few of these sorts of interactive exhibitions and pop ups while living in the Bay Area, and we always thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Art is always more fun when you can be a part of it, right? So when I came across Natura Obscura, an immersive art exhibition in Denver, I knew we had to go check it out.

Natura Obscura, on display at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, is a self guided experience where visitors will find themselves immersed in six rooms of art, all with a link to nature. When you step through the doors, you're taken to a dream world, where forest spirits light up under black light, messages on the floor and walls lead the way, fairy tales comes to life, and soft music creates a calm atmosphere.

Visitors to Natura Obscura are given a black light flashlight to use in many of the exhibit areas. Under these lights images and words appear as if by magic out of the darkness. As my kids found, they also make your face glow in spooky ways!

The kids enjoyed shining their special flashlights on pretty much every surface as soon as we entered the exhibition, eager to see what would pop up. We found all sorts of creatures hidden in the dark as well as words that flowed like streams across the floor and walls.

As well as the flashlights, visitors can download the Natura Obscura app to use within the Forest part of the exhibition. At certain points throughout there are small wooden panels with brown characters drawn on them. The app brings these characters to life on your phone and tells a little story about each. The kids were eager to find all of the characters and watch them on their phones/iPods.

Probably the most popular room in Natura Obscura has to be the cloud like room with the swing in the middle. The kids enjoyed swinging gently in here as the lights around them changed the clouds through shades of pink to white. Of course, with only one swing there was quite the line up to take a turn, but there was still plenty to see while we waited.

In stark contrast to the soft and light filled room with the swing, the girls quite enjoyed a dark room with flashes of colorful lighting that zapped like lightening. A single spotlight in the middle of the room provided the only constant light. When viewed from beneath, this light formed interesting shapes, some that resembled flowers, through its lamp shade. 

Another dark room caught the girls' attention, this one filled with soft inflatables that hang from the ceiling like squishy stalactites, and cover the wall and floor like a giant marshmallow. We've visited quite a few exhibitions with inflatable sculptures like this before and they've always been a hit with the kids who love to hug the artworks. Gently, of course.

One of my favorite parts of Natura Obscura was Time Machine & Cabinet of Curiosities and Impossibilities. This section of the exhibition feels like an old fashioned curio store filled with display cabinets featuring artwork from classic fairy tales, nursery rhymes and beloved childhood stories. The nature theme is carried through here too with displays that would feel at home in a Victorian naturalists studio. The floor is made up of tile mosaics and the walls feature layers of mirror adding depth to the narrow room. We found displays featuring Alice in Wonderland, Humpty Dumpty, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio and many more.

Natura Obscura is on display at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 1000 Englewood Parkway, Englewood now through December 29th.

The exhibition is open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday, with availability on Monday for group bookings only. Ticket prices and hours vary depending on the day.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://www.naturaobscura.org/ 

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