Interactivity 2014: Museums as Playgrounds for Adults

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in TechMuse Blog, The Museum Learning Experience | 0 comments

Interactivity 2014: Museums as Playgrounds for Adults

It’s the morning after one of the great evening museum events at the ACM Interactivity conference — at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix — and the phrase that comes to mind is: “museums as playgrounds for adults.” It’s been a long time since I’ve heard as much laughter and shrieking from adults in exhibits (though as they say, maybe I don’t get out enough…)

Here are some highlights: riding an oversized tricycle through a “car wash”, pushing my way through a forest of pool noodles, climbing three stories through a maze into a flying bathtub, and the quirky thing that caused much delight: shooting small stuffed owls from a cactus halfway across the room.

A common theme: playful physical/social activities experienced with friends and colleagues.

It is, of course, a children’s museum, and these were all designed with children in mind.  But I would guess there was a fair amount of design attention paid to the adult audience as well.  It’s one of the issues children’s museums grapple with: serving not just children, but the adults who come with them as well.

I do a martial art/exercise Shintaido that also has been called a “playground for adults” — we end up chasing each other around a field with sticks. It also points to a bigger need/opportunity in our culture — it’s not just neuron’s in children’s brains that our growing — our neurons can grow too, and playful physical experiences like the ones at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix are a great way to do it.

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