John Ogle, 88.9 WCVE radio correspondent, introduces us to the creatures and mechanical monsters that have come to life at the Science Museum of Virginia. A new exhibit, How to Make A Monster, kicked off on Saturday and will run through September 7th. The exhibition is a first-hand look at iconic monsters like the abominable snowman, werewolves, dinosaurs, and all kinds of aliens featuring the art, engineering, and technology of animatronics that bring creatures to life on film.
“We believe in the power of STEM at the Museum. This summer, we will be defining STEM as science, technology, engineering and monsters,” states Rich Conti, Chief Wonder Officer for the Science Museum of Virginia.
Visual Effects Artist and Academy Award winner John Cox created the How to Make A Monster exhibit and was in town for the opening. Cox tells us what he wants to accomplish in this exhibition. “We try to stimulate kids’ imaginations as much as possible so that when they leave the exhibition they really do want to get out there and make something. We didn’t want to hide anything so we’ve stripped away a lot of the exteriors on some of our models so you can see all of the engineering and the machines that go into getting steel and aluminum and cable to replicate bones and tendons and muscles.”
The exhibition displays a vast array of creatures created during Cox’s long-standing career in animatronics and visual effects - including flying aliens from Pitch Black (2000) and the giant creeping crocodile in Peter Pan (2003).
Cox explaines that the exhibit also shows the birth of a monster. “Everything from the point where we get the script, the storyboards, the original creature design work, then the sculpting, molding, casting, finishing, costume designing, mechanical design, engineering and performance- all of the work is shown and explained throughout the whole exhibition.”
The exhibit is at the Science Museum of Virginia, so everything is hands on. Guests can become animatronic puppeteers, lighting technicians, and creature designers and watch creations come to life right in front of their eyes. Younger kids will even learn how to make a monster at home. Both the Science Museum of Virginia and Cox want “to get the kids to engage their imaginations. Give them a way that they can get what’s in their heads out into the physical world whether that is through sculpting or drawing or trying to make something.”
How to Make a Monster will be at the Science Museum of Virginia through September 7th with special programs every third Friday.
Special programs include “Summer Science Family Fun” on Saturday, June 21st and “Science After Dark: Monster Editions” on Fridays June 20, July 18 and August 15.
Photos Courtesy of John Cox’s Creature Workshop.