The Making of Shipwreck Adventures Home

Photo Roundup: Creating the Cliffs and Coves Animals

When visitors explore the cliffs and coves area of Shipwreck Adventures, they’ll come face-to-face with a number of animals that call the North Shore home. Each of the oversized, 3D animals is meticulously carved and sculpted then hand-painted before being installed in the interactive area of the exhibit. Here’s a peek at the detailed process of how our team brought these animals to life.

Step 1: Build and carve

Most of the animals start with a base of carved foam, with areas of plaster to add bulk and texture.

Sculptor Amy Toscani (center) checking the size and placement of the Herring Gull head with exhibit staff.

A couple of Northern Long-Eared Bats are beginning to take shape.

A rough carving of a Blue-Spotted Salamander.

Step 2: Smooth and prep

Once each animal is sculpted, it is covered in a layer of fiber glass for strength and prepped with a coat of brown paint.

Northern Long-Eared Bats, a Blue-Spotted Salamander and a Woodland Jumping Mouse ready to be painted. 

Some of the animal carvings are brought to the exhibit space to check sizing and placement.

Step 3: Paint

Each animal gets hand-painted by an artist to bring it to life. Artists use reference photos to capture what each animal looks like in its North Shore habitat, then it is given an artistic twist.

Staff scenic painter Julie Prairie begins to paint the Herring Gull.

The painted versions of a Northern Ringneck Snake, Herring Gull, Northern Long-Eared Bats, Blue-Spotted Salamander and Woodland Jumping Mouse.

Step 4: Install in the exhibit

Once the animals are installed in the cliffs and coves area of the exhibit, the cliff walls come alive with glowing eyes, nocturnal forest sounds and intriguing shapes.  As visitors touch three-dimensional elements on the cliff wall, lights activate to show off the animals.  Curiosity, confidence and critical thinking all get a good workout in this area! 

Be sure to come explore these intriguing animals (and more!) in Shipwreck Adventures, now open at Minnesota Children’s Museum!

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