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SUMMERTIME : Family Fun and Games : Museums' summer schedules focus on programs and classes for participants of all ages.

June 26, 1992|KAREN KINGSBURY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Karen Kingsbury is a West Hills writer and author

Jennifer Shell believes she and others in the museum industry have hit upon a formula for success this summer.

"We want to see the whole family coming to the museum," said Shell, coordinator of education at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Mom and Dad can examine the artifacts, while the children make miniature replicas from various art supplies."

LACMA will focus on the art of various cultures, including American, early Chinese, late Chinese, Korean, pre-Columbian, Egyptian, ancient West Asian, Greek, Roman, early Renaissance, Southeast Asian, Indian, Himalayan and Islamic.

"In the past, the art museum has primarily been a place for adults," Shell said. "Now we want people to think of our museum as a place where everyone in the family can have a good time and learn something, too."

Kidspace in Pasadena has geared its summer programming along the same lines. A majority of its classes are for all ages, and at least once a week, the museum has scheduled a family oriented performance workshop in which performers will include the audience in a participatory demonstration.

For example, in July, mime Judi Garratt will lead a demonstration and workshop in which families will work together to learn a mime routine. Similarly, actor Andy Papadopolous will conduct a workshop in which families learn to tell stories through theater games, and the Pasadena Symphony Juniors will give a performance and then welcome families on stage to try out various instruments.

"This is definitely the age of the family," said Dana Powell, director of education at Kidspace. "People want to know that everyone from Grandma to junior can participate when the family goes out for an afternoon."

Powell said Kidspace is encouraging extended families to participate in the summer programming.

"Not all families consist of a mom and dad and two children," she said. "Whatever people represent family to a child are the people we expect to see at our museum this summer."

In August, Kidspace will offer family style performance workshops involving percussion instruments, creative dance and Afro-American music. Along with the performance workshops, Kidspace will offer additional children's workshops every day of the summer. Activities will include storytelling, film festivals, T-shirt making, paper making, nature exploration and workshops on various aspects of nature and music.

"Every workshop we've set up this summer is designed so that families may attend them together," Powell said.

Events scheduled for the Los Angeles Children's Museum have, as always, been designed for family involvement. Because the museum is primarily for children, workshops allow and encourage parental assistance and family involvement.

"Families flock to the Children's Museum during the summer," said Anne Brubaker, public relations coordinator for the museum. "The adults like it because a day with us is a day out of the heat and a day of pre-planned activities for their children. The children like it because they have such a good time here."

The Children's Museum has developed themes for each of the three traditional summer months. June is flight month, and several workshops have been scheduled on this theme. In July, children's courses will focus on architecture and building, and the theme for August is media.

This month, there are workshops on "How Things Fly" and hands-on activities in which children will make flying objects. July will feature workshops on building box cities, under the supervision of professional architects. Children will also have the opportunity to dismantle common household items and put them together again. In August, youngsters will have the chance to make their own newspapers, radio programs and newscasts under the tutelage of working professionals in the media field.

"Not only will the children have a great time with these workshops," Brubaker said, "they will have a chance to explore something about themselves. In this way, they might discover a love for flying or a desire to be a newscaster one day. This is where it starts, with children."

The county Museum of Natural History has an added attraction this summer that is expected to attract children and their parents in droves, according to museum officials. The long-awaited Ralph M. Parsons Insect Zoo officially opened along with the reopening of the Discovery Center on April 25.

The Insect Zoo features more than 25 live insect exhibits, including sterile Mediterranean fruit flies, several species of beetles, giant stick insects, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, dung scarabs, Malaysian dead-leaf mantises, velvet ants, a black widow and emperor spider, and hairy scorpions. Spanish-speaking staff members are available for bilingual assistance at the zoo.

The zoo also includes a bioscanner that can be operated by visitors to give them a closer view of insects in their natural habitats.

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