PLAY AFRICA CHILDREN’S MUSEUM – a place to play, learn and dream

Whilst we’ve had quite a challenging year setting up a new organisation, trying to find a home for the Hummingbird Children’s Centre and juggling day jobs, the upside of this process has been connecting with people working in the field, kindred spirits who have a passion for play, learning and design for children.  One of those people is Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, founder of PLAY AFRICA Children’s Museum.  Our projects are both in similar phases, trying to find a nest, or rightful place in the city where “South Africa’s children and families come together to play, learn and dream.”cropped-play-africa

I am really excited about the Museum which promises to be:

“An exciting and world-class institution to offer play-based and informal educational experiences to children age 1 to 10 and their families, as well as schools. From our flagship site in Johannesburg, we expect to serve at least 200,000 visitors a year, and we aim to become one of the most treasured public institutions in South Africa.

PLAY AFRICA is where play and learning meet, and our sensational exhibits expose young children to maths, science, literacy, and the arts. Our facility and programmes are accessible to all South Africans. Key to our concept is that all children and visitors are treated with equal value and dignity, regardless of gender, race, language, nationality, religion, family income, family structure, or physical or mental disability. 

PLAY AFRICA is a social enterprise. We have developed an innovative, entrepreneurial business model as a non-profit company run with the efficiency and rigor of a corporate business. We are proudly South African, and prioritise local businesses and services providers in all of our efforts.”

brooklyn CM

Water play at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the world’s first (Image: NY Daily News)

According to wikipedia the world’s first children’s museum was the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, founded in 1899.  By 1975, there were approximately 38 children’s museums in the United States. An staggering 210 museums opened between 1976 and 2007, and as of 2007, it was estimated that approximately 80 children’s museums in the planning phase.

Museo de los ninos Caracas Latin America's first museum for children opened its doors in 1982

Museo de los Niñnos Caracas – Latin America’s first children’s museum opened its doors in 1982 (Image: http://www.taxitocaracas.com)

The children’s museum concept spread worldwide – In Europe Le Musée des Enfants in Brussels was started in 1978, Eureka! the National Children’s Museum in Halifax, UK was established in 1992 and Austria’s ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna, in 1994.  The Children’s Museum of Caracas, Venezuela, became Latin America’s first museum for children when it opened in 1982, followed by the Children’s Museum of Bogotá, Colombia, in 1986.  In Asia the Museo Pambata in Manila opened in 1994 and Korea’s first children’s museum Seoul opened in 1995.  Time to put Africa on the map!  

Below are some images from Children’s Museums around the world and we cannot wait for Africa’s first to arrive.  Good luck to the team at PLAY AFRICA! 

Madison Children's Museum, Wisconsin

The lovely rooftop garden at Madison’s Children’s Museum, USA (Image: Building Trust International)

 

Soft play and construction (AND destruction!) at Seoul’s Children’s Museum (Image: Kids Fun In Seoul)

Soft play and construction (AND destruction!) at Seoul’s Children’s Museum (Image: Kids Fun In Seoul)

Interactive installations at the Discover Children's Story Centre, London (Image: Playing by the book)

Interactive installations at the Discover Children’s Story Centre, London (Image: Playing by the book)

The ‘EatSleepPlay’ exhibition which featured around 70 interactive exhibits at Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Image: New York Times)

The ‘EatSleepPlay’ exhibition which featured around 70 interactive exhibits at Children’s Museum of Manhattan (Image: New York Times)

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