Santa Monica, United States – Museum exhibitions are often associated with the one-directional and the untouchable. Not at the brand-new Cayton Children’s Museum, located on the third floor of the open-air urban centre Santa Monica Place; the popular spot is mainly known for its retail and hospitality offerings.
At nearly 20,000 sq-m, the OfficeUntitled-designed facility features a series of exhibitions that take place in five different wings, also called neighbourhoods. Beyond the Mr. Rogers reference, the idea is to create interactive exhibitions that allow children aged 0-10 to choose their own learning and discovery adventures. Each themed exhibition is dedicated to exploring core universal values, such as kindness, compassion, respect and hospitality.
The Reach For exhibition – where a web of ropes is suspended from the ceiling – helps children discover their abilities of achievement. Launch Your allows 0-to-2-year-olds to build coordination and confidence by interacting with various types of topography. Let’s Help and Together We prompt them to create a community of collaborative play, as well as encouraging communication and support. And then, the aptly titled Reflect On inspires introspection, reflection and connection.
All in all, it's a great example of how children’s museums should be designed: conceived for playfulness, with dedicated spaces that empower learning abilities, but never dumbed down. Indeed: Fred Rogers would have been proud to live in such neighbourhoods.