The 2012 Summer Olympics may be thousands of miles away, but this week, London is coming to Greenwich as the Bruce Museum celebrates the world's oldest and most prestigious multi-sport extravaganza with a series of events and workshops for kids and families.
"We want to get people excited about the Olympics," Robin Garr, director of education at the Bruce, said. "It's more than just about being the perfect physical athlete; it's about the expansion of mind and spirit."
The festivities kick off Sunday, July 22, with Olympic Opening Ceremonies Celebration Family Day, featuring gallery hunts, crafts, games and athletic demonstrations. From Tuesday, July 24, through Friday, July 27, the Bruce will offer a four-day series of hands-on workshops exploring different facets of the Olympic games. Kids can make their own replica Olympic flame relay torch (July 24); Olympic country, athlete and sponsor pins (July 25); portraits of athletes made out of Sculpy (July 26); and Olympic medals (July 27).
The activities are inspired by the Bruce's current exhibitions, "The Olympic Games: Art, Culture and Sport" (on view through Sept. 2) and "The Games: The Science of Sport" (on view through Thursday, Aug. 2).
The brainchild of Garr, an avowed "Olympics freak," the first exhibition compares the ancient and modern games through objects and art: Greek artifacts and ceramics; sculpture and paintings from the late 19th century to the present, archival photographs and video footage of athletes in competition and memorabilia from Olympians, such as Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias and Al Oerter.
The exhibit puts an accent on sports -- foot races, wrestling, boxing, long jump, discus throw and javelin -- that have been around since the early Greek Olympiads. To give families a feel for the games, Family Day activities will include a barefoot running race through the museum galleries.
"It's the only time kids will be able to run through the museum," Garr joked.
A companion exhibit, "The Games: The Science of Sport," showcases the physical attributes of athletes, how athletes train and the science and technology of Olympic sporting equipment, including women's javelins, cushioned boxing gloves and carbon-fibre running blades.
"SuperBodies," a 3-D animation and original video, delves below the human skin to reveal the biology behind athletic performance. From the supersized lungs of a swimmer to the fast-twitch muscles of a 100-metre sprinter, visitors will see how the body reacts, compensates and copes with pressure-filled competition.
The goal of the activities and exhibitions, Garr said, is to educate visitors about the Olympic Games, from antiquity about 2,800 years ago to this summer's event, which kicks off Friday, July 27, in London.
Garr noted that the Olympics have always created a sense of excitement -- a phenomenon sparked both by the grandiosity of the games and the rare show of cross-cultural appreciation.
"The most highly-rated part of the Olympics is the opening ceremonies," she said. "It's a time when we put our differences aside and embrace each other and our sports fanaticism."
Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich. Olympic Opening Ceremonies Celebration Family Day: Sunday, July 22, 1-4 p.m.; Workshops: Daily, Tuesday, July 24, through Friday, July 27, at 11 a.m. Admission charged. 203-869-0376, www.brucemuseum.org.
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