Quick, name your favorite Paul Simon song.  Bet you have one off the top of your head.  But when you visit the new exhibit at the Skirball, Paul Simon: Words and Music, you’ll be reminded of just how many amazing songs he’s written and it becomes impossible to pick a fave. Take a journey through the music of Paul Simon, which the kids will love if it’s new to them, and then make the morning last at the new accompanying family space, The Park.

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

You Can Call Me Paul
If you haven’t yet introduced your musical aficionados to Paul Simon or Simon and Garfunkel there is no better opportunity. Paul Simon: Words and Music was first created by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio and has come to LA with some added bonus features. See Simon’s first-ever guitar gifted to him by his dad that he used througout his early career. Or step inside the “living room” inside the exhibition where the family can catch some of Simon’s early television appearances—including his hilarious Saturday Night Live appearance.

photo: Skirball Cultural Center

Coo Coo Ca Choo
This exhibition is full of sights, sounds and words to inspire everyone. Take a look around and see handwritten manuscripts and lyrics and lyric developments including an early draft of Mrs. Robinson on an envelope. Encased in glass are pieces of Simon’s wardrobe as well as several of his Grammys and Kennedy Center Honors Award. And there are, of course, listening stations where you can hear the man himself. Whether you have a budding musician or a curious historian, this exhibition is the stuff of dreams.

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

No Sounds of Silence Here
After you tour the wonder of Paul Simon, keep the magic going and visit the Roland Music Lab included as part of the temporary exhibit. Here, your young musicians can visit multiple stations where they can have a hands on experience; because we know they need that time after behaving in a exhibition with the grownups. Here, the family can keep the beat with Cecilia or manipulate tracks on songs like The Boy in the Bubble. Or they can grab a mic and sing along to one of the favorites. This is the perfect cap to the exhibit, where they can put what they heard and learned to the test. (Be sure your phone is charged so you can record their warbling!)

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Mother and Child Reunion
If you ducked back for a little more Paul Simon music while your kids played in Noah’s Ark, it’s time to reunite for some outside play.  The Skirball has created “The Park”—an outdoor mini-playspace open now through September 3 (just like the Paul Simon exhibit that inspired it!). Let them roam, romp or simply sit on the turf and have their lunch. Here, your musicians can grab an electric guitar or drum and make music on the “grass.” Or take a walk around the corner and find a bright and beautiful mural inspired by “Down by the Schoolyard.” Adjacent to the mural are denim strips where everyone can write down the title of one of their favorite songs and tie it to the chain link fence to create a community around the music. If you can pick one favorite song…

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

This exhibit is open Tuesday-Friday from noon-5 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through September 3.  The exhibit is included with admission ($7 for kids 2-12 and $12 for adults), as is admission to Noah’s Ark (don’t forget to reserve a time in advance if you plan on visiting the super popular Ark) and the amazing summer family concerts that take place all summer on Saturdays & Sundays in the amphitheater at noon & 2 p.m.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N Sepulveda Blvd.
Online: skirball.org/exhibitions/paul-simon-words-music

What’s your favorite Paul Simon song?  Let us know in the comment section!

—LeTania Kirkland Smith