PREVIEW: Tales of the Maya Skies


Have you ever been to a planetarium? Did you think the dome theaters were only for looking at the stars? Have you ever wondered what is possible in this science museum theater?
To really push your imaginations on what can be done here, you might want to check out the latest show at the Museum of Natural History: Tales of Maya Skies. It is a show combining science, cosmology, and myth and how Mayan scholars developed a sophisticated understanding of astronomy, architecture, and mathematics.
If you love astronomy, ancient civilizations, planetariums, or unique media, this might be the show for you!
This show happens every weekend so you have plenty of time to enjoy this awesome exhibit.


This show is also available in Spanish on Saturdays!

REVIEW: Expedition Reef

What. A. Fantastic Show.

Do you like planetariums? Even if you don’t like planetariums this is a show you ought to check out. Expedition Reef is a new planetarium show at the Natural History Museum in Ann Arbor and it is a-ma-zing.

Expedition Reef is a 30-minute long film of sorts that takes viewers on a journey through the different coral reefs in our oceans, how they form, how they are dying etc. While the film is educational it is not boring in the least. The film is absolutely gorgeous: the realistic underwater animation shows these rainforests of the ocean to you as if you were a scuba diver. Seeing the ocean stretched out on a whole planetarium is breathtaking, to say the least. It is an immersive experience and the visuals are top-notch. It is described as an oceanic safari and it really is that diverse and fun.

Even the educational material about coral reefs is super well done. In fact, my favorite part of the film was when we are shown how reefs reproduce (they do it by expelling spores in the water which I know because I saw this awesome film). During the scene, spores fill the 180 degree screen and it is akin to watching thousands of lanterns being sent to the sky. So gorgeous! I wished this show was longer than just 30 minutes.

After this, we were given a 15 minute guided tour of our universe. A graduate student in astronomy showed us our planet’s location in the solar system, our solar system’s location in the galaxy, our galaxy’s location in the universe, and so on. The tour explained a lot of things like exoplanets, interstellar space, and more (I finally understood why Pluto was kicked out from the planet committee of our solar system). Even though we saw a lot in a short time, the presentation on the screen made it very easy to follow and also to conceptualize distances in space.

After the show ends, the viewers exit through a gallery to a science museum! It had a vast array of hands-on activities, interactive information, and really fun, elaborate nature displays.

Going to see a planetarium show with a friend followed by a museum visit as you all point to different exhibits, take pictures of a raccoon eating peanut butter will be a wholesome, serotonin-filled way to spend the weekend. The planetarium is still offering tickets for shows that you can buy at the museum for just 8 dollars. Since it is so close to home (basically in the center of the city) there is no reason for you to not go explore what all our world-renowned museums have to offer.



REVIEW: Victors for Art—Michigan’s Alumni Collectors

For some reason, I envisioned a collection of aged oil paintings and sculptures at the sound of the Victors for Art exhibit. I thought to myself, an exhibit of work owned by alumni? They probably have ancient sculptures and European paintings or something. 

And the exhibit did have that. I spent a good ten minutes marveling at an oil painting comprised of various shades of blue, featuring two men on a cliff. Another several minutes were spent admiring an oil painting of a woman who appeared to be deep in thought, pictured below; I took note of the wonderful shading and highlight that the artist captured in this piece, especially through the wrinkles and folds of the woman’s veil.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA

But Victors for Art went beyond one’s envision of a typical museum art gallery: I found myself looking at a stuffed rooster in a glass casing, standing across from one that was identical in appearance but was comprised of various materials. Other works included a set of figurines that represented the twelve zodiac animals ( dating back to several centuries), a painting of a nude woman leaning on a large pack of Lifesavers, and a large piece of a woman dazzled in embellishments, pictured below.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA

As the group of alums who made this exhibit possible was diverse, so were the works themselves. This gallery is presented along with the theme of figuration, going with the idea that this exhibit will “allow visitors to explore the variety of artistic responses and purposes encompassed…” and that’s exactly the kind of experience I had when visiting Victors for Art: Michigan’s Alumni Collectors—Part I: Figuration.

Photo courtesy of the UMMA
Photo courtesy of the UMMA

For those who have not yet seen this exhibit, it’s a must! Victors for Art provides the opportunity for one to view art that may not usually be available for the public to view. The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11AM – 5PM and Sunday 12PM – 5PM!

REVIEW: Artists of the Photo-Secession Gallery Tour at UMMA

When did photography become an art form? At some point, the technology for capturing images of people, places, and things developed enough that people could start adding artistic flair.

At the turn of the 20th century, a young Alfred Stieglitz had a radical idea that photography could be art, which clashed with ideas of older, more established members such as Charles Buadelaire, who considered photography nothing more than a “servant of the sciences and arts.”

Luckily for us, Mr. Stieglitz would have none of that. He formed the Camera Club of New York and started an avant-garde photography journal that changed how people saw photography.


These new artists, rather than simply pointing and shooting, used more artistic methods for their photographs. They took pictures with a soft focus to try and emulate the “look” of paintings. They used more expensive materials to get better contrast of lights and darks. They printed on Japanese paper, because nothing says classy quite like Japanese paper.

Seeing the pictures was enough to see the transition to photography as an art form, but going on a tour of the exhibit helped place the photos in a social context.

Our photo-secession-3stupendous tour guide compared two images of the Brooklyn bridge and pointed out how one was a standard picture of a bridge, while the other focused on the shapes and form of the structures of the bridge.

At the end, we learned about Stieglitz’s most famous work, The Steerage. He considered The Steerage to be his most important work because, while I only saw an interesting photograph with a lot going on, we learned that there was a deeper meaning.

The Steerage was one of the first photographs to make a social statement. Before the photograph of the protester in Tienanmen Square, or anything from Vietnam, there was a photo showing two separate classes in one photograph: the immigrants both literally and figuratively below the rich on the same ship.

The exhibit made it easy to see why opinions changed from viewing the camera as merely a gadget, to viewing it as a tool of the artist.

All the hard work put in by the photographers to distinguish their work as art, however, made me stop and think. In the era of iPhones and Instagram, where anyone can take a decent photo, are we regressing to a time where the photography is becoming a lesser art form?