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Carnegie opens first exhibit specifically for 5- to 13-year-olds: M is for Museum

October11/ 2011

The first hands-on, kid-focused exhibit debuts at the Carnegie Museum of Natural Historyon Oct. 15, and “this one is a little bit different,” says Project Director Beth Redmond-Jones.

The museum is pulling more than a thousand specimens out of storage for this behind-the-scenes view of how a museum works. Dubbed M is for Museum, it aims to answer questions kids are likely to have: What do you collect? How big is your collection? Where did the animals come from?

The A-Z exhibit includes D is for Draw (all those scientific illustrations throughout the museum), K is for kids (who collect stuff too), O is for old (What’s the oldest thing in yourhouse? Where did it come from?) and X is for X Marks the Spots (where you’ll find Carnegie Museum workers around the world). Kids will be able to examine fossils (at F), use hand lenses and microscopes (at L is for Look), and learn about the museum’s research at Powdermill Nature Reserve (at P).

“It’s really breaking down that wall for who we are, what we do – what we collect,” says Redmond-Jones. “This is also definitely going to appeal to adults, because a lot of adults have no idea what we do behind the scenes.”

Kids will be able to build their own museum displays at (C is for Collect) from a mix of real specimens and replicas, then label the displays themselves. Testing a prototype, Redmond-Jones found that “I had five, up to 13 year olds, doing this activity and I couldn’t get them to stop.

“We would really like visitors to have an appreciation for life on earth and why we do what we do,” she concludes, “and why it’s important to the community.”

Writer: Marty Levine

Source: Beth Redmond-Jones, Carnegie Museum of Natural History