The Vision for MAKESHOP
In 2010, the Museum began to work with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments to envision a space designed to challenge and nurture the creative interests of the Museum’s visitors using physical and digital technologies. This enabled the Children’s Museum to marry the strength of its “play with real stuff” philosophy with technology, visitor-generated content and informal learning research and evaluation. This active partnership fosters organizational learning, strengthens institutional capacity and creates an innovative space for informal visitor learning.
In April 2011, MAKESHOP partners began prototyping aspects of the idea on the Museum floor with visitors. While the vision for MAKESHOP was of an open-access workshop where digital and physical making would intersect, we sought to prototype the medium-based themes of electronics, sewing and woodworking. By approaching these mediums independently of one another, we were able to develop a deep understanding of the affordances of and limitations to the making process each presented to visitors, to facilitation practices, and to the general design of the space.
MAKESHOP in Practice
MAKESHOP opened October 2011 in an 1,800 square foot space in Children’s Musuem of Pittsburgh, providing Museum visitors open-access to digital media resources and physical materials for exploration, creativity, curiosity and innovation. A dedicated facilitation team comprised of skilled makers, artists and educators engage and enable visitors to translate their ideas into tangible products. Each day, MAKESHOP staff prototype playful and innovative blendings of materials, tools, processes and ideas through programs, open-access equipped workshops, partnerships and in collaboration with visitors.