Hands-on interactive elements in museums – three simple ideas from two continents

Travelling always brings me new inspirations. During my last two trips to Phoenix and Madrid I have seen some simple ideas for interactive elements for children and adults.

Inspirations from Arizona 

With a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius, a suitable way to survive was to cool down in a museum. This is what I did, heading to the historic downtown of Scottsdale to visit the Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.  This relatively new museum (opened in January 2015) invites children and adults to co-create in the exhibition space. At The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History exhibition visitors are encouraged to design their own movie posters.

A backlit table and a wide range of Western-inspired silhouettes eases the process of drawing. At the end of the exhibition, visitors can pin their newly created posters on a wall.
The permanent exhibition The Abe Hays Family Spirit of the West Collection features a table with raised metal figures of animals & birds – suggesting children to make their own souvenir of a museum visit.

Inspirations from Madrid

It was a big surprise to encounter an Adolf Loos exhibition at CaixaForum Madrid. This time it was not the heat, but a heavy downpour that provided the excuse for a museum visit. In the exhibition space, the visitors were invited to create their own interior designs, inspired by the works of the famous Viennese designer & architect, Adolf Loos. Children and adults were rearranging sofas, wallpapers, textiles in the pre-designed rooms with great joy.
Digital tools enhance the quality of the museum visit. However, the appeal of simple hands-on activities should not be underestimated. This was the main lesson I learnt during my two recent trips.

Photos: Sofia Widmann
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