We recently visited the Arcadia Earth Museum in lower Manhattan on a bitter, cold day. We were looking for something to do indoors that would interest both the kids and adults, and this pop-up exhibition on Broadway in Astor Place definitely fit the bill.
What is the Arcadia Earth Museum? It’s the passion project and creation of experimental artist Valentino Vettori; together with his team and several environmental artists, they created 15 rooms dedicated to educating the public on the earth, the environment, and sustainability. Each room, it should be noted, is comprised of solely recycled and biodegradable materials.
More than an exhibition, Arcadia Earth is an experience, full of wonderous colors and lights, artwork, even smells. Driven by augmented reality, virtual reality, projection mapping and interactive environments, walking through the different rooms is like being transported to a different place – places such as the underwater world, forests, fantasy lands, caves and fields of wildlife.
Each room has a theme that addresses problems with our environment, such as pollution, climate change, food waste and more. Examples of the rooms include the “Rainbow Cave”, which contains 44,000 plastic bags to represent the number of plastic bags used in a minute in New York State. It’s a stunning room.
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Another room, focused on the ocean and made out of coral art works, explains how a single drop of sunscreen can contaminate a coral reef that is the size of 6.5 Olympic swimming pools. The animal agriculture room, with carcasses made out of clothing, teaches you that it takes over 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef. That’s the equivalent to 4 months of showering.
There are rooms with virtual reality devices where you put the headsets on and step into an underwater world and see dolphins, sea creatures, divers and more. Another one takes you to a field of wildlife where you can see a lion a hand’s length away.
The augmented reality comes with the use of your phone. Upon entering the museum, you download Arcadia Earth’s app and use it to learn factoids about the earth and environment (actually the website says to do it beforehand, but we, along with many other visitors, missed the cue and just did it when we arrived). It should be noted that it’s only compatible with I phone 7 or later. If you have a different phone, the museum has I pads for people to use.
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There are symbols throughout the exhibition where you point your phone, and the factoids will appear, along with things like sea fish in the ocean rooms, and other earth-related images in the other rooms. The interactive aspect of the Arcadia Earth Museum is what makes it so fun for the kids. Mine could not get enough of the “coolness” and paraded around the museum eager to see the next room.
I very much enjoyed the art work, from the video projections to all the recycled materials that create the landscapes. I loved how everything is upcycled and biodegradable to create the beautiful spaces that they are. I read that the creator, Mr. Vettori, wanted to create a gorgeous – and positive – space to combat all the negativity associated with the environment as a way to get people to visit and think about sustainability more. I would say this was a good tactic, as we all learned a lot of things we hadn’t known before, all the while enjoying the fascinating art experience that it is.
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If you want to learn more about sustainability and how you can make a difference in our increasingly destructive world, head to the Arcadia Earth Museum. And definitely bring the kids – it’s both an entertaining, and educational, experience.
Things to note about the Arcadia Earth Museum
- It’s a pop-up! Which means it will be disappearing at some point – then it turns into a traveling exhibition.
- It’s not big – it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to walk around.
- It has a nice gift shop with interesting environmentally-focused things for sale.
- Tickets are $33 per adult and $27 per child (2 and under free) – so while not cheap, we still found it worth it.
- Visit their website here for hours.