Frost’s Curious Vault Collaboration combines art and science to explore flight

Photos courtesy of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

What happens when you bring together the work of an aerospace engineer and a sculptor?

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will display the result Tuesday with a kickoff event and panel discussion for “Curious Vault Collaborations 002: Insight Flight.” The Curious Vault is an online platform highlighting objects from the museum’s collection. The collaborations bring together an artist and a scientist to create specific exhibits.

“The first one we paired a local artist and a marine biologist,” said Kevin Arrow, the museum’s art and collection manager. “This one we are pairing a local artist, Robert Chambers, with [GeCheng Zha, a university of Miami professor and director of the Aerodynamics and Computational Fluid Dynamics Lab].  The project itself becomes a science experiment because we put these ingredients together and hope for the best.”

“Insight Flight” will explore the past, present and future of flight. Organizers drew inspiration from an exhibit planned for the museum after it moves next summer from its Old South Miami Avenue location to a new home downtown.

“There are many people working on an exhibition that’s going to be highlighted at the new museum called ‘Feathers to the Stars,’” Arrow said. “In a nutshell, it is going to be a history of flight: the very first evolution of feathered dinosaurs, to man looking up and wanting to fly, to SpaceX and the future of space travel. We had this ‘eureka’ moment when we realized no museum has ever linked all three of those into one exhibit.”

The event on Tuesday includes a panel discussion featuring Arrow, Chambers, Nathaniel Sandler and research assistant Daniel Espinal, who will represent Zha.

“The highlights around the talk will be different too,” said Sandler, founder of Bookleggers, a 2014 Knight Arts Challenge winner that gives away books to the public. “There will be a silent auction with 10 local artists who have done Miami cityscapes of the future through the lens of transportation, architecture or design … The last event was a more straightforward talk with reception, while this one has more bells and whistles.”

Spaceleggers, a special edition of Bookleggers, will set up in the Miami Planetarium with a table full of science and science-fiction books.

“The growth of Bookleggers has allowed us to take risks like this: bigger events in bigger venues,” Sandler said. “That is what people keep coming back for, something new, something different … In the silent auction we will actually auction off an astronomy library. A lot of those books have actually come from the planetarium’s collection.”

Arrow will be working in the planetarium as well. With the help of DJ Le Spam, he plans to provide an immersive audiovisual experience.

“I’m doing a projection installation in the dome using vintage planetarium slides I’ve collected and other films,” Arrow said. “DJ Le Spam is doing a live set with Lance Vertok, who collects vintage synthesizers. I’ve been calling it a super event because there is so much happening.”

On top of the panel discussion, free books, silent auction and planetarium experience, Curious Vault will provide free burgers courtesy of Shake Shack. Bartenders from Gramps, the Wynwood watering hole, will serve free cocktails.

“There are going to be moments that are really thought-provoking, but also beautiful, especially in the planetarium,” Sandler said. “Plus there is going to be free vodka and cheeseburgers, so you can’t really go wrong with that.

Tickets cost $15 and are available online.

Alec Schwartzman is an editorial intern for Knight Foundation. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @AMSchwartzman.