MCN 2016 Sessions – Not Just For Kids: Playful Experience for all Visitors

Not Just For Kids: Playful Experience for all Visitors

Friday, November 4, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Session Leader : Blaire Moskowitz, Marketing Manager, Antenna International
Co-Presenter : Christine Murray, Senior Content Designer, Antenna International
Co-Presenter : Erica Gangsei, Head of Interpretive Media, SFMOMA
Co-Presenter : Kellian Adams, Mastermind, Greendoor Labs
Co-Presenter : Scott Eberle, Vice President for Play Studies and Editor of The American Journal of Play, The Strong National Museum of Play

It’s a misconception that play is just for kids. As seen with adult preschools in Brooklyn, “The Beach” ball pit at the National Building Museum, and the “Adult coloring book” category on Amazon, we know the general public is looking for places to have fun and not be measurably productive at all times. How can museums capitalize on this somewhat-taboo trend of adult spontaneity and experience? “Talking about adult play is kind of taboo in our culture,” says Lynn Barnett-Morris, University of Illinois expert on the effects of play on personality. “We think it’s a waste of time or that we could be more productive doing other things — all sorts of dumb stuff.” In our unique place of “edutainment”, museums can be an agent of change to show that adult play is a way to learn new skills, remember information, and make connections, all while capturing the imagination. So how do we encourage enjoyable and playful learning in both a museum that the public views as very serious and in a culture that thinks play is only for children? How can we free visitors from the falsely perceived pressure of forced learning in a museum? Can we provide enough freedom that adult visitors are engaged in activities that encourage personal expressiveness and in turn create positive and happy memories? This panel will address how museums can address play in adult learning. We will discuss how playful environments are created and how they can be extended to outside of the museum, drawing upon the panelists experiences designing playful exhibitions and digital interpretation. Panelists will draw upon the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the meaning of “flow” in relation to museums, and discuss how games can be incorporated into digital media.