Our first children’s museum this year was in San Diego. The New Children’s Museum has a well-defined themed mission where the installations & workshops are created by artists. Their current exhibition, Trash, has twelve participating artists who created fabulous, interactive projects that challenged how we view trash. They asked:
How do we decide what is trash?
How does your trash impact the lives of others?
How can we imagine new possibilities, and a new future for our trash?
One of our favorite installations was a refurbished, up-cycled trash bin that gives new meaning to “dumpster diving.” Chris Sollars’ “Play-fill” is a bright yellow play structure with outside and inside elements. The exterior has a wall of tires that provide footholds up to the top of the dumpster fort. On the other side a fun slide gets you down.
“It was so fun even for an eighteen year old! The trash-awareness component made it educational without knowing it! The trash bin was mine, and E’s, I think, favorite part!” — Niece
The interior of the dumpster was filled with pretend trash bags—black-cloth, securely-closed, foam-filled trash bags. On the ceiling of the dumpster interior was a flat-screen video feed that had slow moving pieces of trash floating down into the dumpster. Literally, you could watch trash be poured onto you. We took a breather there from all the climbing play.
Sollars’ most pointed comment about re-thinking about trash was a video that showed walking, trash bags that hiked from downtown San Diego up to a re-furbished landfill in Balboa Park that is now a playground. Thankfully, a New Children’s Museum docent came up and described to us the purpose of the video. Upon first glance, the mobile trash bags looked like a weird ominous prank where they would clump around existing trash bins; however, she described them as “friendly” trash monsters and about Sollars’ vision for reviewing our perspective on trash and the playground that used to be a landfill. This docent was a key element to understanding this silent video. I’m not sure if it would be possible, but a clearer sign or video narration would help here.
All in all! A great installation with lots of interactive and thoughtful elements. Love seeing all the ways to repurpose and view our fun and trash-y world around us.
There are many creative kid blogs that encourage parents to play and create at home with found objects. My go-to site is Tinkerlab, which posts great “challenges” that encourage kids to create with everyday objects around them: egg cartons, plastic bottles, magazines, and pasta to name a few.