New exhibit lets Amazeum visitors make it themselves

New exhibit lets Amazeum visitors make it themselves

How do you make an idea come to life? That’s the question little inquisitive minds can explore in the Amazeum’s newest exhibit, “In the Making: Ideas Come To Life.” The interactive and bilingual exhibits give kids and families a peek into the creative process and even let them try out their ideas in a variety of fun settings.

“We wanted to have a space where we invite the guests into the thinking process. As that sort of idea bubbled and materialized, we realized we should have an exhibit about what it means to actually make something and how can we get people to think about what it means to actually be a maker,” says Simon Mused, senior exhibitions manager at the Scott Family Amazeum.

“We have a lot of booths, materials, a variety of different types of textures, and fields and weights, to let them experiment and get their hands on it,” Mused explains while walking through the space intentionally located outside of the Amazeum’s 3M Tinkering Hub, a workspace that “enables children and families to explore materials, investigate technologies and create.”

Some of the exhibits contain framed notes and photos from the process of bringing the idea for an exhibit to life. There’s even a prototype of the Amazeum’s Giant SpongeBob exhibit located in the “Wall of Possibilities” modeled as a cabinet of curiosities that also highlights many of the local makers throughout Northwest Arkansas.

“We wanted to show guests that even the ideas that we had here in the Amazeum, you needed to tinker and play with and test out,” Mused explains.

“We noticed that a lot of [kids], especially young kids when they’re given the option of ‘you can make anything,’ they get choice paralysis … they don’t want to make something because they feel like if there are too many options, they don’t know where to start. And so they just don’t do it. That’s the same for adults too, sometimes, where we want to do something but don’t know how to get started.”

The hands-on exhibits give the “maker” parameters to work within — whether that’s seeing what objects will float in an air tube, or making a musical circuit on a seemingly normal bench — and makers of all ages are invited to play.

Some exhibits include mirror effects like The Endless Hallway — which invites users to step inside and experience the “endless” mirror. Some exhibits play with small and large-scale anamorphic effects — distorted images or objects that appear normal when viewed through a mirror or lens. There’s also a floating head photo opp that would make for a unique Christmas card. In the midst of the exhibits is a small reading nook.

“In the Making” has strong local ties as well. Each hands-on exhibit was either built exclusively within or assembled in the Amazeum’s vast maker workshop by either the museum’s staff of makers, including Dayton Castleman and Tyler Altenhofen, who are makers-in-residence. Castleman created Space Puddle, which is a large box that hangs from the ceiling. When guests walk beneath the box, motion sensors cause water to drip and create a rippled shadow “puddle” around the users’ feet. Altenhofen created a fun “Magic Mirror” that uses circuits to create a sort of photo filter mirror that changes based on the viewer. Guests can even look inside the exhibit to see how the whole thing works. Plus there’s a giant kaleidoscope, built by University of Arkansas students, that allows little makers to create a unique moving picture using tangible objects under a large lens.

By providing raw materials, interactive exhibits and allowing users to peek behind the scenes the “In The Making” exhibit allows guests of the Amazeum to see how raw materials become exhibits.

“That’s something we do really well in our Tinkering Hub, but we wanted to have an exhibit full scale about the stuff that we’re making here,” says Mused. “We feel that this exhibit is really an extension of our ‘maker’ ethos.”


Creativity At Play

Amazeum allows visitors to become makers


NWA Democrat-Gazette

On The Cover

Simon Mused, senior exhibitions manager at the Scott Family Amazeum, demonstrates a device meant to mimic the photo filter affects from social media apps as part of the “In the Making” exhibit at the Amazeum in Bentonville. The mirror was created by maker-in-residence Tyler Altenhofen. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)


‘In the Making: Ideas Come to Life’

WHAT — A new, interactive exhibition designed to highlight the creative processes involved in turning inspiration into real objects, along with many of the messy steps, experiments, mistakes and lessons learned along the way. The exhibition features new exhibits from the Amazeum’s creative team and pieces at different points in their design process.

WHEN — Through May 2023; hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Wednesday with “priceless nights” until 7:30 p.m.; 1-5 p.m. Sunday

WHERE — Scott Family Amazeum, 1009 Museum Way in Bentonville

COST — $11


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