Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Body Works

There's an interactive exhibition at Hackney Museum (under the library on Reading Lane) called Body Works, which we have been spending some time perusing, usually after toy library on Tuesdays. The museum is fun and educational with a bus (no 38 of course) to play on, a replica boat like one dug up in Hackney with reed baskets full of fish and fruit to trade, bricks to build tower blocks and demolish them and much more. Body Works is a temporary exhibition but it's even better than the general museum. There's a heart tent, a sensory walk for bare feet, a skeleton to rearrange, and a cabinet of curiosity -basically loads of drawers with things in like instruments, feathery boas, masks and the like. You can draw pictures, look in mirrors and press buttons to get sounds. And there is a chair made of stuffed animal toys.

I am impressed by the implied trust in children and their parents which lets them rampage round this hands-on exhibition, touching, feeling, listening, taking stuff out of drawers and putting them back in. It is looking a bit worn now, mainly the bit where you put your hands in to feel different textures as children seem confused about where their hands go, but it is still great. 

It was a shame though that the nursery class we saw there today weren't getting as much out of it as they could have. There were about 12 four year olds (I'm guessing) and three adults, and while the kids were having a whale of a time screaming, charging round the exhibits, and generally causing havoc, I don't know if any of them even knew it was an exhibition about the body. The adults were no making any attempt to engage them with the exhibits, one of them was just sitting in a chair watching and the others were limited to "Stop running! Put your shoes on!". It's a real shame as there is so much learning to be done there, in a fun way.

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