“To me, the concept of Whammock! is to connect with others through the waves of vibration in the net.” – Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam

The incredible journey of our newest art installation

The Museum’s newest art installation, Whammock!, is here and is scheduled to open this weekend on June 15! The stunningly colorful 28 by 20-foot, three-dimensional textile structure resembles a giant hammock of crocheted circles, open pockets and hanging pendulums. Within this play-structure, children are able to move upwards through one pocket after another until they reach a vibrant expanse where they can climb, slide, bounce and rest. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to play and interact with others, and the first large-scale work at a museum in the U.S. by internationally renowned textile artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam.

It’s also been a long awaited journey in bringing Whammock! to life and make its home at the Museum. It began two years ago when the Museum’s Deputy Director, Tomoko Kuta, visited the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan to experience one of MacAdam’s installations, Woods of Net (MacAdam has exhibited several large-scale, interactive crochet structures around the world such as Paris, Tokyo, Dubai and New York City since 1971)The experience was so inspiring that she sought out MacAdam to see if she’d be interested in creating such a structure at The New Children’s Museum. MacAdam agreed to visit the Museum and found that it was the perfect fit for her work.

“When my husband, Charles, and I first came to The New Children’s Museum, we had a fantastic first impression and felt it was very forward-thinking. We were impressed by how the Museum inspires the freedom to create as part of a child’s development and decided we must do a piece here. We just fell in love with the Museum,” says MacAdam.

Since their initial visit more than a year ago, it’s been a labor of dedication, community and incredible craftsmanship. It took nearly 3,600 hours to crochet the 40 miles of hand-braided nylon and 1,000 pounds of net that make up Whammock!, which MacAdam did from her studio in Nova Scotia, Canada. Pieces of the net then traveled 3,835 miles to San Diego, where MacAdam constructed the final structure by attaching large sections of Whammock! together with the help of the Museum’s Exhibitions team. Museum staff and their families even helped stretch the net and give Whammock! it’s evolving shape through play-testing.

The result: A visually stimulating, giant structure that bends, shakes and morphs when children play inside it, and comes alive “like a monster,” describes MacAdam gleefully. The 14 hand-dyed colors are also unique to Whammock!, reflecting MacAdam’s  impression of the San Diego environment and landscape, including references to California poppies, the ocean and Mexican cultural influences.

“To me, the concept of Whammock! is to connect with others through the waves of vibration in the net,” says MacAdam. “If a child climbs, jumps or crawls in one place then another child will feel the vibration and respond with their action, and in this way, they are naturally communicating to one another.” She also explains that the name Whammock! comes from the word hammock. “Every culture has a hammock or type of cradle, and Whammock! is a giant one that impacts everyone who plays in it.”

Whammock! will call the Museum home and be open for at least the next 5 years. It’s one of three installations in the U.S. made by MacAdam, of which it is the largest. MacAdam continues to hand-dye and hand-crochet thousands of feet of highly durable nylon in her Nova Scotia studio, working alongside her husband, Charles.

Whammock! is made possible by presenting sponsors Laurie Mitchell and Brent Woods; and Lynn Gorguze and Hon. Scott Peters. Additional funding provided by the major sponsor National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).

Video

Time-lapse of Whammock! Installation

Get a behind-the-scenes look at bringing Whammock! to life at the Museum!

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