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.