Like a mirror, art reflects the beauty of the world around us, reveals who we truly are, and can contain a lot of naked people. Step into a funhouse of art-mirrors with today's Groupon: for $5, you get two general admission passes (up to a $12 value) at Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts and Imagination Place Children's Museum in Gadsden. Full day admission for children 2 and younger is free and is $5 for children ages 3 to 12, and Imagination Place admission is free every Tuesday for groups of nine or less between noon and 5 p.m. Housed in a distinctive triangular building crowned with an enormous painted cylinder, Mary G. Hardin Center decks the walls of its three ever-changing galleries with local and national exhibits that transcend a variety of media. From March 15 to May 29, film buffs can wander amongst the technicolor posters of Movie Posters from the Golden Age of Hollywood or geek out over a singular cinematic touchstone with Gone with the Wind at 75: A Diamond Jubilee (June 30 through December 23), as well as a gaggle of mixed media and landscape artists. The museum’s second floor houses the Coosa Valley Model Railroad Association's permanent exhibit. One of the largest model railroads in the United States, it replicates Gadsden in the mid-1940s, complete with former steel mills, depots, and dinosaur feeding lots. Along with Mary G. Hardin Center's regularly scheduled musical acts and theatrical presentations, spring brings with it the popular Courtyard Concerts (April through September, weather permitting), a free cavalcade of live jazz, blues, classical, and bluegrass music inside the New Orleans–style outdoor courtyard. Children (ages 2 to 10) who are more fascinated by the science of ice cream or the mysterious appeal of bubbles will have much more fun at Imagination Place, housed adjacent to Mary G. Hardin Center. With the aid of hands-on activities, interactive games, and refreshingly few bottomless pits, inquisitive larval humans can discover how a city works at the Kidstown USA exhibit before heading to the pretend grocery store to stock the indoor tree house with all their favorite imaginary treats. Newly hatched patrons of the arts will prefer to tumble, dig, crawl, and explore the colorful, age-appropriate toys in the Tot Spot Play Yard. Imagination Place also hosts Arty Pants—its weekly art activity—and other special events, including tie-dye T-shirt workshops and celebrations of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, free with paid admission.
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