Remember the jungle gym? It’s changed.
Meet Connecticut-based company Luckey Climbers, the firm sending children to new heights around the globe with wildly innovative, site-specific climbing sculptures. Rendered in shapes that are purposely abstract, the climbers both add one-of-a-kind forms to public environments and encourage children to be active and curious.
As Spencer Luckey, the firm’s president and designer explains, “Climbing sculptures allow museumgoers to experience art in a different, physical way. Rather than standing and looking at art, visitors activate the sculpture with their bodies and minds.”
Find two of the firm’s newest climbers and one well-loved, newly-renovated favorite here.
1. Climber: La Medusa at the Trapiche Museo Interactivo in Los Mochis, Mexico.
Size: 22-feet-high by 14-feet-wide.
Fits: 24 children.
Standout: Tentacle-like plastic panels orbiting around sculptural steel pipes create the squid-like form of Luckey’s most recent climber, La Medusa. Inspired by the billowing form of a medusa jellyfish, and rendered in a Pacific-blue, this freestanding climber invites children to scramble until they reach the jellyfish’s bell—painted by artist Robert Reynolds. The bell’s umbrella-like canopy also provides shade from the scorching Mexico sun. While panels are placed to prevent falls, an open wire mesh covering the sculpture provides extra security.
2. Climber: The Celtic Dragon at The Atrium at W5 in Belfast, Ireland in collaboration with White Ink Architects.
Size: 20-feet-high by 36-feet-tall by 62-feet-long.
Fits: 99 children.
Standout: The sleek look of the Celtic Dragon climber is achieved with automotive paint, applied to disk-shaped plywood platforms rising on steel pipes. Designed in collaboration with White Ink Architects, this climber is Luckey’s largest to date—soaring five stories high. In order to fit the climber into the existing rectilinear space, the design team carefully incorporated pre-existing beams and columns. The result: an abstract form that springs from the ground and bursts outward above. “Unlike other climbing installations that might look like houses or castles, our climbers are non-representational sculptures that spark the imagination,” Spencer Luckey notes.
3. Climber: The New Balance Climb at Boston Children’s Museum.
Size: 32-feet-high by 20-feet-wide.
Fits: 54 children.
Standout: Pioneering digital fabrication techniques and engaging children for almost a decade with a prominent position at Boston Children’s Museum, the New Balance Climb debuted a complete restoration and update this year. Stained plywood platforms and steel pipes rise three stories, twisting in a maze-like challenge to its intrepid explorers. The reward at the summit: sweeping views of downtown Boston.