On Saturday, April 8, the curtain opens on a brand-new theatre-themed exhibit and makerspace — The Prop Shop at Kaleideum Downtown. This project was made possible in part by a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In addition, The Prop Shop received funding from the the Winston-Salem Foundation, the Cannon Foundation, the Corning Foundation, John and Anna Hanes, and the Sam N. Carter and Pauline H. Carter Fund.
The Prop Shop is the first “makerspace” for Kaleideum, the recently merged Children’s Museum and SciWorks. Within this space, visitors can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using a variety of tools and materials. The exhibit and its related programming will support learner-driven experiences that engage children, families, and school groups in processes that integrate experimentation and creativity.
“We have created a welcoming space for children of all ages and backgrounds that encourages creative, constructive play through inquiry and open-ended problem-solving,” said Elizabeth Dampier, Executive Director – Museum. “Projects are accessible for those who are exploring a space such as this for the first time, as well as more advanced offerings for those who are not new to the maker world.”
The Prop Shop features a 1,000 square-foot space set in the “backstage” of a theater. Real tools and materials are available for visitors to design and create their own puppets, costumes, set pieces, and props. Within the exhibit, the programming facilitated by the Prop Shop Manager and Teaching Artists will focus on children ages 4-12 and their caregivers; however, the space will also include a theatre-themed toddler area with a small slide and interactives that offer developmentally appropriate experimentation and opportunities for dramatic play.
“The activities to engage younger children give the older family members time to create,” Dampier said. “Some of the other exciting exhibit components include a functional animatronic chameleon, sculpting stations, and an interactive loft exploring lighting elements.
“With the opening of The Prop Shop, Kaleideum is offering a new, transformative space,” Dampier continued. “It is filled with multi-faceted, open-ended experiences that allow children to test theories, seek answers to questions, think critically, persevere, and explore at their own pace — all while building and strengthening skills for their future success.”
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