A professional race car driver probably played with Hot Wheels as a kid, and perhaps Neil Armstrong launched toy rockets long before landing on the moon. Using our imaginations as children can lead to big dreams as adults. The National Building Museum (NBM) already hosts programs for teens interested in pursuing design as a career, but an upcoming exhibition intends to inspire a younger generation of architects, builders, and engineers. Play Work Build will present three rooms full of toys where kids can play. Exhibition curators also hope to capture adult visitors’ attention and help them make the connection between creative play and how design professionals work to create our built environment.
The first room offers highlights from the NBM’s architectural toy collection—the largest collection of its kind in the world, according to the museum. Classic building sets such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys will be interspersed with more esoteric examples such as the Bumpalow House kit or Ringa-Majigs. Visitors then will have the opportunity to play with building blocks similar in scale to the classic toys they just viewed. Moving on through the exhibit, a room of oversized foam components will tempt kids and grown-ups alike to design, build, and play on life-size structures. The final display is an interactive digital wall custom designed and produced for the show. This virtual block-play experience allows users to build, knock down, and build again using only their body movements.
Play Work Build opens Nov. 18.