County library system launches mobile Exploratorium-like initiative | January 4, 2017 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - January 4, 2017

County library system launches mobile Exploratorium-like initiative

by Dave Boyce

A history on the use of perspective in art, available at the website of Dartmouth College, says that it wasn't until around 1400 that artists understood and began to realistically portray, in drawings and paintings, a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional surface such as a canvas.

But artists from the Middle Ages and earlier were working at a disadvantage: they did not have access to the San Mateo County Libraries' Lookmobile, a 3,000-square-foot trailer scheduled to make visits to member libraries, including in Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside.

A kind of Exploratorium on wheels, the walls of the Lookmobile have "perspective windows," transparent acrylic surfaces that allow kids to observe three-dimensional scenes outside and use dry-erase pens to trace on the windows the dimensions of the real objects they see on the other side.

"It's often quite surprising to people how perspective makes very large things quite small in a drawing," library system spokeswoman Maria Chiochios said in explaining the windows.

Perspective windows is one of several "core experiences" available in the Lookmobile. The others include:

• A wall display designed to encourage a deeper understanding of maps as communication devices, including maps with a viewpoint and maps with "quirky" character. Visitors can also try their hands at making their own maps.

• A camera obscura, in which visitors see an image on a wall projected there via a pinhole on the opposite wall. Like the perspective window, artists can use projected images as a guide for creating works of art.

• A fog tricycle — a machine mounted on a tricycle that emits clouds of heavy fog, allowing visitors to observe fog forming and moving in response to the character of the surface.

Visits are scheduled for libraries in Atherton (Jan. 14 to 20), Portola Valley (Feb. 27 to March 5) and Woodside (March 6 to 11).

Go to for more information.


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Meet the winners!

The results are in. Check out The Almanac readers' favorite foods, services and fun stuff in the area.

View Winners