Family Fun

Free, Crafty, and Kid-Cool: ‘Cardboard City' Opens

Calling cardboard-minded makers: A giant new exhibition space, devoted to crafts, classes, and more, just popped up in Santa Monica.

JGI/Jamie Grill

What to Know

  • Third Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica
  • Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., through Aug. 29, 2021
  • Entry to the pop-up art center is free; some classes and activities are free while others are available for a fee

That cardboard box sitting by the back door, the one you've been meaning to fold and place in the recycling bin?

We have questions of a quirkier nature.

Starting with this one: Will it soon become a rocket ship, a castle, or a robot head once the aspiring artist in your home finds it?

And the cardboard tube next to it: Might it transform into a telescope, a spyglass, or the sort of pole found inside an old-school fire station?

Packing material, boxes, and tape have long been a source of inspiration for creative kids and adults alike, and oftentimes, those creations go on to touch the hearts and minds of thousands of other creators.

Look to Caine's Arcade, the now-gone, forever-loved wonderland of cardboard-based games created by 9-year-old Caine Monroy, as well as quirky contests like the Cardboard Yacht Regatta at the Annenberg Community Beach House.

Now there's a new place to play this summer, a Downtown Santa Monica pop-up devoted to any big thinker who has ever wanted to do something silly, serious, or spectacular with a cardboard box.

Or, indeed, all of the above, given a box's capacity for becoming super-inventive things.

Cardboard City boasts "... free museum-style exhibitions of large scale cardboard sculptures and architectural models constantly added to by artists-in-residence, free family art activities introducing youth and adults to cardboard crafting techniques, a schedule of fee-based classes for youth and adults, and a Cardboard City Shop selling tools and materials so families can make cardboard art at home."

The spacious art center debuted on July 8, with plans to stay open, vibrant, and bustling with maker-merry joy over several summer weeks.

The closing date? It's scheduled for Aug. 29, 2021.

The non-profit reDiscover Center, which partnered with the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment and Starpoint Properties on the pop-up, is also distributing a program created for 4th and 5th graders around LA County with a focus on cardboard art and engineering projects.

Do note that the center is open Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 6 o'clock.

And while some classes will have fees, there are plenty of free activities to jump into, and admission is free, too.

So are you thinking spaceship, dinosaur, or big tree for the next box that enters your home? Find mind-growing, imagination-stoking inspo at Cardboard City, now through Aug. 29.

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