Balloon Museum features inflation art from the imaginations of international artists

The Balloon Museum, recently opened in Kirkwood’s Pullman Yards, might very well be called The Balloon Art Gallery. The exhibit Let’s Fly features the work of 17 international artists, all created using balloons and other inflatables.

Each room is a world to itself where light, sound, and color interact with inflatables of varied sizes and shapes to provide a unique experience. While each exhibit has information on what the artist had in mind with the creation, The Balloon Museum is to be experienced rather than studied. Even visitors who have no real interest in art can enjoy the beauty and theme-park-like fun. The experience starts even before visitors enter with samples of balloon art on the museum grounds.

Balloon Museum is an exhibition born in Rome, Italy, in 2021. There also are versions in London, England, and Naples, Italy, as well as similar ones in Paris, France, and Milan, Italy.

The museum’s introductory panel states, “Always at the avant-garde, the curatorial team is committed to redefining the way art is experienced by pushing back the boundaries of art installation, and the classical interactions we know. Synonymous with freedom, flight, and access, the Let’s Fly experience takes spectators on an unprecedented sensory journey.”

Visitors may immediately feel a bit disoriented when they step into the first room where there are mirrors on every side, including the floor and ceiling—creating the feel of stepping off into space. Some exhibits are interactive, and guests are invited to—gently please—swing, topple, wade through, or lob the inflatables.

In one exhibit room, visitors can look up at a balloon tree, “a crown of red balloons clustered around the branches of a young sapling tree with roots.” It is the work of South Korean artist MyeongBeom Kim, who, according to display information, “Through an intimate dialogue and being attentive to the whispers between all things…wishes to contemplate on how objects around us are remembered.”

Visitors also must look up to see Canadian sculptor Max Streicher’s Floating Giants – two larger than life inflatable human forms of white translucent nylon spinnaker that hang suspended above visitors. The exhibit sign explains that the ghostly figures are to suggest Gulliver in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels.

Fans of the Netflix movie Emily in Paris may recognize A Quiet Storm, an exhibit in which “soap bubbles,” balls filled with white smoke, float through the air. Conceived in 2009 during an encounter between Fabio Di Salvo and Bernardo Vercelli, A Quiet Storm explores the boundaries between nature and technology.

The largest—and possibly the most awe-inspiring—exhibit is Hyperstellar, which looks like a huge swimming pool. However, the “water” is more than a million balls, each about six inches in circumference, in which visitors may wade and play in as they might in an actual pool. Periodically, a dramatic voice announces, “The show is about to begin.” Soon after, a six-minute spectacle of music, light, and the movement of balls hanging from the ceiling begins. The museum describes Hyperstellar as a “sensorial journey that challenges the perception of our place in the universe.”

The anime-inspired Ginjos created by Italian artist Rub Kandy are more than 30 inflatables in various colors and shapes—some glow in the dark—with huge eyes, but no noses, mouths, or ears. Like the roly-poly toys they are fashioned to resemble, the Ginjos pop back up to their original position when pushed over.

British artist Michael Shaw returns spectators to the kitsch of the 1960s with his colorful soft sculpture Lava Lamp, inspired by the colors, shapes, and movement of a lamp invented in 1963—”a vertical glass globe containing a transparent liquid in which colored balls of melted wax circulate.”

Visitors pose as their companions take photos in a series of balloon-scape boxes, including an all-green room with a balloon coffee table, a balloon potted plant and a balloon catus. There’s also a blue room with steps and platform beneath a cloud made of white balloons in assorted sizes.

For those interested in how the world of inflatables came to be there is a timeline on one wall that tracks them from before the 15th century work of Leonardo Da Vinci up to the very place they are visiting.

Let’s Fly will be at The Balloon Museum through April 12—possibly longer—Mondays through Thursdays 2 until 8 p.m.; Fridays 2 until 9 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.; and Sundays 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. It is located at 225 Rogers St. NE, Atlanta. For more information, visit balloonmuseum.world.

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