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Play sculpture installed in advance of Carnegie International

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Lozziwurm in Basel, Switzerland. Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art is constructing a quirky, tubular structure outside that will give kids a funky place to play and enjoy outdoor time with their families.

The Lozziwurm play sculpture will be the first of its kind in the United States, although the Lozziwurm has been popular in Europe since Swiss artist Yvan Pestalozzi designed it in 1972. The project includes a landscape design for a little pocket park, near the Oakland museum's main entrance at Forbes Avenue and Craig Street — with park benches, so that parents can sit and watch their kids play.

The Lozziwurm will be open to the public and free. Officials broke ground this week and plan to open the structure in late April.

“Kids crawl through it,” says Lynn Zelevansky, director of the art museum. “There are all these different holes, and they can pop out of it, meet each other and surprise each other.”

Although many families already come to the museum, Zelevansky says she hopes that the Lozziwurm will draw even more young visitors.

“It's big and it's colorful,” she says. “It's a really wonderful design.”

The Lozziwurm, though it has no wormy face, is “twisty and turny,” says Jonathan Gaugler, museum spokesman. The structure is roughly 20 feet by 20 feet. “If you can imagine a snake that curls around in a square.”

The Lozziwurm's bright colors — red, yellow and orange — provide a colorful contrast to the museum structure, Gaugler says.

“The face of the museum is this big granite slab. ... It's beautiful, but it towers above you,” he says. The Lozziwurm is “something that's beautiful, that draws your eyes and makes you feel comfortable. It's also a playful thing. We want it to be fun.”

The Lozziwurm, which is a permanent installation, is one of several projects leading up to the museum's 2013 Carnegie International exhibition, which opens Oct. 5. This exhibit, which will have components in other parts of the city, has an underlying theme of play as the foundation for thinking, making and experimenting.

The International includes “The Playground Project,” an illustrated exhibition about the history of playgrounds since the mid-20th century. This will be on display from June 10 to Aug. 23, and again from Oct. 4 to March 16, 2014. At the museum's Summer Architecture Camp, kids will be able to explore sites from around the world and design playgrounds.

“This is a major endeavor, not just for the museum,” Zelevansky says. “This is a major endeavor for the entire city. This has a lot to do with our identity as a place.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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