For anyone who’s visited Thinktank, chances are you’ve come across Kids’ City, a gallery designed for with the under-8s in mind. Kids’ City is one of the most popular areas in Thinktank and you’ll generally find it full of families exploring the health centre or café, dressing up, or playing in the water area.
With Kids’ City being so popular, Birmingham Museums staff are planning to develop a new, larger, gallery building on the ideas and themes of Kids’ City, but with much more space and more to do! ‘MiniBrum’, as the planned gallery is being called so far, will feature plenty of hands-on activities combined with fascinating items from the museum collections, and will be designed to allow the under-7s to explore along with older siblings and adults, to learn about the body, the city, and the environment.
To ensure we develop ideas that children will understand and enjoy, Birmingham Museum staff will be carrying out consultation with experts from the education sector, health sector and beyond, as well as with the most important experts – children themselves! We have already developed a good relationship with one nursery group and will be having more visits from children where we can find out what they do and don’t like in Thinktank, what draws their attention, and how they like to learn.
Over the summer holidays we also had two days of family consultation. Families visiting Thinktank could drop in and help us create a cardboard city, to give us some ideas about what ‘the city’ meant to children; and while they were creating, we could talk to children and carers about our themes, about what families like to do in the museum, and explain our plans.
We had some fantastic creations, from a giant clock to a playpark; a prison to a parachute factory; and a dog-shaped dogs’ home to a castle for parking your ponies! Watch out for pictures of more of the fantastic creations online soon.
We’ll be running more consultation activities over the course of the year, so if you’d like to be involved in helping develop our new gallery, or if you’d like more information, do get in touch: Rosie.Barker@BirminghamMuseums.org.uk