Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Whilst on holiday in Frankfurt, Germany, I happened across the Kinder Museum Frankfurt and, not one to pass up an opportunity, I popped in to have a look at how play and education is done German style.
Both Eureka! and the Kinder Museum share much in common in terms of ethos, which their website states is: "[The museum] offers… a hands-on oriented learning experience. In all its exhibits the visitors are encouraged to play an active role".
And what really chimes with me as Eureka!'s Playwork Co-ordinator was this following statement on the museum’s website: “Touching, testing, trying out: independent thinking and an autonomous learning environment are central to the children's museum”. Absolutely! One of the things we tell our school party visits at Eureka! is to ‘get their busy fingers on’ and really explore and learn in the museum by pushing, twisting and pressing the exhibits.
Now I am particularly squeamish, and the sight of blood makes me feel a little ‘funny’, so it was rather unfortunate that I timed my visit to coincide with the ‘Blood Suckers’ theme... Through a variety of hands-on exhibits and practical exercises that visitors can carry out, I got to learn about a rogue’s gallery of skin piercing, blood sucking critters, from fleas to leeches.
Looking at the exhibits and the experiments on offer, as well as the Early Years play area, the Kinder Museum could easily have something to occupy an age range from 0 up to early teens.
I was particularly impressed by the re-use of electrical wiring and electrical parts to make your own blood sucking parasite model. The children even got to handle wire strippers whilst making models, which added an element of learning ‘with risk’ which I know that children love.
In terms of the size of the museum, for any regular Eureka! visitor the comparable area would be that of one of the Our Global Garden galleries. The Kinder Museum does however make great use of the space it has available. As well as hands-on exhibits, such as using a crank to emulate the jaws and blood sucking apparatus of a ‘critter’, there are areas for practical experiments and comfortable reading areas - all done without feeling cluttered.
The gallery had also been cleverly themed, going from a bright and airy reception area to a darker area with red lighting and red blood cell themed draping - it was an excellent contrast and it did feel as if you were travelling down a vein or an artery.
I enjoyed the Kinder Museum and found it interesting to see how a city centre based museum that operates very differently from Eureka! in using a single ‘rolling’ gallery concept can work. Coupled with the friendly and approachable staff, should you find yourself in Frankfurt I really would recommend a visit.
For more information, take a look at the Kinder Museum Frankfurt website.
Or for Frankfurters with an interest in seeing play and education in England, here’s the Eureka! website.
Specialist Play Enabler