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Giant Drinking-Straw Sculpture on View at Children's Museum

By Andrea Swalec | April 19, 2013 8:55am

MANHATTAN — A massive sculpture made from thousands of drinking straws debuted Thursday as the latest interactive feature at the Children's Museum of the Arts in Hudson Square.

Constructed in a second-floor loft "bridge" space near the whimsical museum's "ball pond" filled with plastic spheres, CMA curators selected New York artist Patrick Martinez to make the piece to get children to consider light, space, perspective and color.

“How much fun to be able to make your way through an incredibly fantastical construction created completely with … flexible drinking straws," Jil Weinstock, the museum's director of education, said in a statement. "Anything is possible!”

Martinez, who hails from France and has displayed his work worldwide, made the plastic art using a kit he created called JIX that uses recycled plastic connectors to link ordinary straws. He said he hopes kids will find their own uses for the space.

“The bridge at CMA allowed me to create an immersive sculpture like a tunnel or a cave, which I hope will be an engaging environment for kids, where they can hide, play or just do nothing and rest," the artist said in a statement.

The CMA knows how many straws Martinez used to make the piece, but they won't reveal the number yet. Kids can enter a contest with their own guesses, and the winner will get a membership to the museum and a JIX connector set to make their own art.

The straw art is the first of four site-specific pieces that will be shown in the CMA's loft space this year.

The museum moved from Lafayette Street in SoHo to a former loading dock on Charlton Street in October 2011, tripling its size to 10,000 square feet. Founded in 1988, the museum aims to display and encourage children's art.

Julianne Moore, Paul Rudd and Brooke Shields will be honorary co-chairs of a benefit for the museum on May 5.

The Children's Museum of the Arts at 103 Charlton St. near Hudson Street is open Monday and Wednesday noon to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Tuesday. Admission costs $11 per person, with free entry for seniors and infants under a year old. Admission is pay what you wish on Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.