Material Lab, MoMA’s popular interactive space for families, recently closed after a year-and-a-half run with over 72,000 visitors. Material Lab was staffed by fantastic facilitators and a rotating roster of 65 dedicated volunteers.
Posts by Elizabeth Margulies
When my colleagues Cari Frisch, Kirsten Schroeder, and I set out to create our latest interactive space at MoMA, we knew we wanted to focus on artist materials—we just weren’t sure what kinds of interactive experiences to provide.
A seven- or eight-year-old boy sits at a table and carefully sifts through a pile of brightly-colored laminated shapes. I have posed a challenge: can you show a person running? At first, he is stumped. He picks up some pieces but then declares, “I can’t.” So I pose for him. I bend my arms and legs and ask him to look at the shapes they are making, and then ask him to see if he can find or even combine some shapes to show that movement. I leave him for a few minutes and then return. He proclaims, “I did it!” and indeed he did. Using shapes such as simple rectangles and squares, and the more complex “L” and rectangular “U”s, he has created an abstracted figure of a man running. Later I ask if he can document his creation with a drawing, which he does.
Such is a typical experience as a facilitator for Shape Lab, our latest interactive space at MoMA.
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