The Skirball Cultural Center and Museum is a wonderful Jewish museum that has two very cool permanent exhibits and one special exhibit. I actually went to see the exhibit on comic books but ended up LOVING the two permanent collections. First of all the museum is set in the hills and every inch of the parking lot, to the walkway, the building and the natural setting is breathtaking. Okay, the parking lot wasn’t breathtaking but was easy to access and free (for once).
I paid to enter the museum and didn’t know that all the special exhibits were included. Thank G-d the guard (the most helpful anywhere) convinced me that I should go see the Noah’s Ark exhibit. It was described as interactive and I just assumed it would be too childish for me. That ASSUMED gets you in trouble all the time. So I made arrangements to see the exhibit. You had to get a time slot. Well, it was spectacular. Each one of the animals and all the props are made from recycled materials and many of them move with cranks. The “zebra piano” has a twirling tushie. The huge giraffe moves its long neck and the elephant has a built-in gong. One of the docents let me know that the exhibit took five years and five million to build. The ingenuity and imagination that went into this project made it my favorite.
I then went into the permanent exhibit that is the core of the Jewish experience. The Skirball has a huge collection of Judaica, Jewish historical artifacts and really innovative ways of telling the story of the Jewish American experience. The self-guided tour started with Jews in the Diaspora, continued into the holidays and life-cycle events and finished with the history of Jews coming to America and our experience here. There were a number of beautiful and historic calligraphy pieces. I was really tickled to see a megillah (the scroll telling the story of Purim) that was done by Sharon Binder. I actually studied with her almost 20 years ago when I went to Israel for a summer of intense Hebrew calligraphy.
My visit was complete with a visit to the museum gift shop where I bought a fun piece of jewelry, more books and other good stuff. But the best part was meeting Evelyn, a charming lady of mom’s age with whom I shared a lovely conversation and bonding experience. This was followed by lunch in their café which is run by Judy Zeidler, a famous kosher cookbook author. YUM.