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Fog sculptures delight kids of all ages at Louisiana Children’s Museum

Wind, humidity and temperature sculpt fog into different shapes every 30 minutes

Fog is generated every 30 minutes at the Louisiana Children's Museum. The fog art installation was designed by artist Fujiko Nakaya. (Kevin Ambrose for The Washington Post)
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Fog art is a thing, and it doesn’t need to be viewed from afar. Instead, you can run through it waving your arms and screaming with joy.

Artist Fujiko Nakaya designed the fog installation at the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans. It was introduced two years ago, and it’s one of the first permanent fog installations in the United States.

The fog sculptures are generated every 30 minutes along a footbridge over water. The fog can be viewed from the museum’s deck and cafe, or you can walk into the mist on the bridge and admire the sculpture from the inside looking out.

(Video by Kevin and Elisa Ambrose)

The beauty of fog is it’s never the same. Fog is in a constant state of change. Wind, humidity and temperature sculpt fog into different shapes every time it’s generated.

During dry, breezy days, the fog sculptures move and disappear in a matter of seconds. During humid, rainy days, the sculptures slowly expand and dissipate slowly. The weather always shapes the art.

The fog is generated by pressure. Three pumps fuel the fog creations every 30 minutes, and each fog display lasts three minutes.

Educating children about the environment and climate

The fog installation is just one part of the Louisiana Children’s Museum. There are interactive, hands-on displays to help kids understand the nearby Mississippi River, erosion, the power of waves and microscopic views of nature.

The museum’s chief executive, Julia Bland, said the institution’s mission is to educate children about the environment and climate to become good stewards of our world. “We help kids understand that water is an asset and not a threat,” Bland said, which is often top-of-mind because much of New Orleans is below sea level.

Some of those lessons take place on a floating classroom pulled into a lagoon by cables. The kids learn about nature surrounded by nature.

The Louisiana Children’s Museum is located in beautiful City Park. Hurricane Katrina had flooded the park under four feet of water in 2005. The museum was built two years ago five feet above grade.

Magnificent southern live oak trees grow on the museum’s grounds and in City Park. Some of the trees are over 500 years old.

When Katrina flooded the area with brackish water, the native live oaks survived, but the magnolia trees, which are not native, did not survive. Live oaks have survived floods for centuries.

Visiting New Orleans

In addition to visiting the children’s museum, I toured the levees and flood walls around New Orleans to survey Katrina-related repairs and see the damage that’s still there 16 years after the hurricane made landfall.

Catching fish while dodging storms in a delectable, dramatic New Orleans adventure

I made time to stop at one of the most popular places to visit in New Orleans, the National World War II Museum. It tells the story of the war from the viewpoint of the soldier.

My favorite exhibit was Trench Art. The soldiers were very creative with their bullets, empty shell casings and whatever items they encountered in camp or on the battlefield that could be personalized. The museum’s 4-D film “Beyond All Boundaries” was also a highlight.

When my wife and I checked into the Higgins Hotel nearby we met a World War II veteran in line in front of us. He is doing very well for his age. We thanked him for his service, and our brief conversation was one of the high points of my visit.

Of course, any trip to New Orleans should include a visit to Bourbon Street. It’s an excellent place for people-watching or to have a drink. If drinking is not your thing, there are walking tours and carriage rides.

Showers and thunderstorms occur almost every day in New Orleans during the summer, similar to the weather in Florida. While walking down Bourbon Street during our first afternoon in the city, heavy rain suddenly fell. My wife and I quickly entered Desire Oyster Bar for an early dinner and to get out of the downpour. Their crawfish étouffée and Louisiana crab cakes were delicious.

Outside, people continued to walk down Bourbon Street in the heavy rain. I made a mental note to buy a rain poncho to carry for the remainder of the trip.

After dinner, the rain ended as quickly as it started, and we took a haunted history tour called French Quarter Ghosts & Legends. The stories were fascinating and a little grizzly. And it was an excellent way to walk off dinner.

The proper way to say New Orleans, I was told, is “New Or-Lins.” When ordering food, it’s crawfish, not crayfish or crawdad. I said crayfish once and was corrected. For the rest of my trip, I pronounced the name of the freshwater crustacean correctly, at least by New Or-lins standards.

I’m already looking forward to my next trip.