Children’s Own Museum Reborn, Toronto

29Sep12

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Kids As Curators

Kids As Curators

Posted by Riley

Children’s Own Museum (COM) came to fruition 25 years ago with the goal of creating a Toronto based museum specifically for children, similar to those that exist in other prominent north american cities. In 1998 they made the McLaughlin Planetarium, located directly south of the Royal Ontario Museum, their home. During their 3 years in the space they attracted roughly 450,000 visitors; however, they found themselves without a fixed location as their lease ran out.

After a couple of dormant years, the Children’s Own Museum returned once again to the CN Tower in the form of a children’s Kite Festival and workshop. It was during this time, in conversation with Robert Logan, that COM changed the focus and direction of their operation. Robert is the founder of the McLuhan Legacy Network, a non-profit organization based in Toronto dedicated to renewing the legacy of Marshall McLuhan and celebrating the centenary of McLuhan. Marshall McLuhan said “As technology advances it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation, is going to be the age of do it yourself”. It was ideas around automation that shifted their focus to the role of technology within our society, as catalyst for continuous change and transformation. They began to examine how children related to technology, and looked at what experiences they could create for them. Children’s Own Media Museum Inspired by Marshall McLuhan was born.

So how does it work?

Through the use of Arduino boards (open-source single-board microcontrollers of Italian origins), among other tools, a team of professionals, childhood education/development experts and parents (all volunteers) work with children to help them create their own story and effectively turn this museum into reality. The museum turns everyone into curators by allowing children to bring their own backgrounds/experiences and through the use of the technology express their own narrative. See video here http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/blog/?p=6285 .

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