In the late 1940s, a group of artists came together to create the Fresno Arts League?a forum for art exhibition and critique. Their inspiration lives on today at Fresno Art Museum, a hub for artistic culture. The museum houses a permanent collection of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art exhibits by the likes of Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams. Members get more than entry to the museum; they also receive free access to opening receptions and Conversations with The Artists events, among other benefits.
Hundreds of reenactors from several western states descend on Kearney Park for a living-history lesson that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the civil war. Wander through a civilian town and military encampments housing battle-weary soldiers as live music from the period drifts through the air and artisans craft non-anachronistic wares. Time-traveling visitors may stumble upon Abraham Lincoln for a chat about emancipation or about how he plans to decorate his beard for Halloween as a collection of stagecoaches gleams in the sun nearby.
At the Break Room, players grab a cue and maneuver past a foosball table and boxing machine to face off at one of 16 9-foot pool tables. Tunes pump from jukeboxes and LCD televisions readily show the sporting event du jour in a space permeated by free WiFi.
Dedicated instructors at In the Spotlight Dance Center lead burgeoning ballerinas ages 2–18 through class curriculums of classical and modern ballet, lyrical and contemporary dance, and rhythm-boosting sessions in jazz, tap, and hip-hop. Students meet each week to shimmy and shuffle in one-hour sessions, prepping for potential careers as performers or the interpretive dance translator for the United Nations. Young tots can receive a triple threat initiation to dance with a combination class of tap, ballet, and jazz, and advanced dancers have the option of attended accelerated classes in pointe and repertoire.
Arte Américas is a nonprofit cultural emporium of Latin-Americana that integrates more than 10,000 square feet of eclectic artwork, theater classes, live music, book readings, poetry slams, and many workshops. This season's summer concerts in the Plaza give you a chance to gyrate your hips to the sizzling cumbia of La Sonora Explosion Dinamitera (August 6); groove to the songs of Santana as delivered by Zebop (September 3); or anachronistically Charleston to 40-Watt Hype's fusion of hip-hop, Latin, soul, and R&B (September 10). And come Mother's Day, your membership puts you y tu mama tambien on the VIP list for the perpetually sold-out Rebozo Festival, which recognizes the achievements of Hispanic women in categories other than Being Salma Hayek. The laid-back atmosphere of Arte Américas is reflective of the vibrant Hispanic and Latino influences found throughout the museum as you stroll around, absorb the creative energy, and daydream about siestas where you're dreaming about siestas.
Visitors traveling through Challenger Learning Center's exhibits may feel they've fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. One moment, they're as tiny as a nanobot as they gaze at nanotechnology components developed for medicine, electronics, and space elevators. The next, they're giants who could bat the whole planet around with one well-aimed jump—that is, if the planet is the NASA projection globe across whose surface features of the sun, moon, and Earth flow in vivid color.
Other exhibits take visitors far out, with images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope or deep inside, with the Body Plaza's skeletons, x-rays, and organ models. A wide slate of interactive programming engages youngsters' problem-solving and teamwork skills with activities such as simulated space missions, where they keep the astronauts entertained over the radios at mission control or assemble probes in the spacecraft while hurtling toward Mars.