Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Museum of Play

by Kai-Shanet Blackwood

Upon arrival to the Strong Museum of Play, I was greeted with huge, brightly colored toy building blocks which was part of the building’s exterior facade; it immediately drew my attention towards the building. However, it was not until I entered the building that I realized my initial impression of what I expected to see in this museum was all wrong. I thought the museum would be a formal display of different toys and how it may have evolved or maybe have information on the history of play but when I entered I saw children walking around with their parents and a big toy store. It was unexpected but a relief to know I may actually be playing.

After receiving my armband, my friends and I were greeted with a woman dressed in an Elmo from Sesame Street costume. For the fun of it, my friends and I decided to take a few pictures with Elmo. Before we officially entered the exhibit area there was a quote on the wall above us that read “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” That quote got me thinking, “who doesn’t know how to play?” Everyone should know how to play but it also occurred to me that sometimes we forget how to take a break from our busy schedules and play a little.

One of the first exhibits was a mini-supermarket for children. The shopping carts were really small and all the groceries were made of plastic. My friends and I were acting like we were really shopping and we were playing around just having childish fun. At one point I stepped back and looked at my friends playing and I observed a child in all of them.

Each exhibit had a different theme, from dinosaurs, Toy Story (the movie) and the Berenstain Bears to Star Wars, Superman, Batman and many more. There was a room full of pinball games and a little section to the back that shared the history of how the game evolved. There were demonstrations of how the game looked in the 20th century which was different from what it looks like now. Then we stumbled upon a huge chessboard that my friend and I later played. After visiting about six exhibits we all got really exhausted and our energy levels decreased significantly from when we first entered the museum. We continued walking and looking around but didn’t engage as much in the games and activities as we did before.

It was coming close to the time we had to leave so we found seats so we could relax or talk to each other until the time came. Occasionally, I saw children and their parents walking by, some running away for their parents and others too small to walk. It reminded me of when I was younger and full of energy with no care in the world but to play, eat and sleep. I felt nostalgic as I thought about my experience that day because as I walked through the exhibits I was reminded of the many games and television characters I used to watch as a child growing up. It was a refreshing experience and I know my friends enjoyed themselves as well. Though I left feeling exhausted I was glad to be reminded of the fun I had in my childhood.

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