Whatcom Museum Invites Public to Comment on Proposed Family Interactive Gallery Expansion

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Submitted by Whatcom Museum

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The Museum invites parents, teachers, artists and other adult community members to attend a design “charrette” or collaborative planning session, on Tuesday, June 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Family Interactive Gallery (FIG) inside the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora Street, is planning an expansion, as well as updates to current exhibits, in an effort to integrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education into its curriculum. The Museum invites parents, teachers, artists and other adult community members to attend a design “charrette” or collaborative planning session, on Tuesday, June 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the FIG to weigh in on the change.* Community members interested in looking at the current exhibits in the FIG and sharing comments, critiques and ideas are welcome to drop in any time throughout this time frame to participate. The public is also welcome to join Museum staff for refreshments and a short presentation in the Rotunda Room of Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street, with FIG designer Larry Ackerley of Spaces and Experience Design firm in Seattle.

Participants will check in at the FIG and receive a pad of Post-It notes and a pencil for writing comments. They will have the chance to walk through the current exhibits and see concept floor plans for the proposed expansion. Larger comment pads will be placed throughout the FIG for participants to leave their Post-It comments. The Museum hopes to receive feedback from a wide range of community members, including educators, artists, parents, homeschoolers, and any other interested people. Comments will be collected and used to inform the design process.

“In the past few years, the FIG has seen exponential growth and interest in our educational programs and exhibits, especially in the realm of STEAM education,” said Executive Director Patricia Leach. “We want to grow the FIG’s STEAM presence in the community and offer cutting-edge curriculum to children of all ages, but we need the community’s feedback to learn how to best serve children.”

The Whatcom Museum will partner with the local school districts and other early education organizations to create exhibits that meet state standards for STEAM education. The new exhibits will be prototypes focusing on STEAM learning, and will connect the materials to specific aspects of STEAM. The lower level of the FIG will remain focused on early childhood education, tying in existing exhibits such as the farm area to STEAM concepts. The upstairs expansion is intended for children five and older and will include learning stations for hands-on design challenges. There will also be class teaching areas for further exploration of STEAM concepts.

The Family Interactive Gallery is an interactive, hands-on museum space designed for children of all ages and their families. By offering self-directed exploration, play, and learning together, the FIG provides educational opportunities in many critical areas, including science, technology, art, innovation, problem-solving, early childhood literacy and social and cross-cultural experiences. The FIG supports the Whatcom Museum’s mission of providing innovative and interactive educational programs and exhibitions that stimulate curiosity about our changing cultural, natural and historical landscapes.

*The charrette is an adult working session. Although children are important to the FIG, due to the nature of the open house, the Museum will not be providing activities for children during this time.

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