mini Q

Review

of an Exhibition

by Lynda Kelly

Published on May 16, 2007

  • Description:

    I visited mini Q with our Museum’s early childhood specialist, Sarah, who had recommend it to me. Having a general dislike of science centres, I was surprised and amazed at the obvious thought that had gone into the development and design of mini Q.

    The exhibition is divided into seven areas – water play, quiet space, baby space, sensory space, role play, active play and space lab. Texts panels dotted around the exhibition explained the philosophy behind each area, in both a professional and humorous way. The facilities were great. The bathrooms were just right for little and big people, with plenty of room for all the paraphernalia that goes when visiting with young children! Also dotted around the exhibition were plenty of cleaning materials – wipes and paper towels, as well as bags for dirty toys (that can be washed in their very clever and convenient laundry tucked at the back of the space).

    What I did admire was that they gave mini Q prime “real estate”. It wasn’t tucked away in some dark corner of the place, but given prominence, and not to also mention plenty of outside views and natural light. I especially enjoyed the quite space, which had a good range of quite activities and reading material, with sets of interesting and useful fact sheets on all aspects of parenting that had been prepared by ParentLink for the ACT Government, which you can also download from their website.

    Sarah and I particularly liked the way the seating for adults was incorporated into each section, not as an added afterthought. This encourages adults to join in the experience with their children, not sit back as a passive observer. The seats were really comfy too!

    However, we were wondering how flexible mini Q is. There doesn’t seem to be any areas for programming, and given wear and tear on exhibits by this small (yet high maintenance!) audience, changeover and maintenance will be issues for them in the future we think. The water play area was closed for repairs, which again got me thinking that water exhibits are never a good idea given their high levels of maintenance (also not to mention that Australia is in severe drought and messages need to be given about conserving water not wasting it!).

    As I left I noticed the very cleverly designed stroller parking area and the wonderful lockers that had been built into a large wall, showcase-style, that were interspersed with objects and artworks. Overall mini Q was clever, respectful to the audience and a fun learning experience for young visitors and their carers. There should be more like it!

Latest Comments (1)

Phew!

by Em Blamey - May 29, 2007

As the developer of MiniQ, it was great to read this review and discover that all our hard work was evident.
We were fortunate to have a lot of development time for this exhibition, so were able to do significant research into the needs of this new audience. The parental seating, toilet facilities, cleaning wipes etc. are all a result of this.
The research also suggested we needed to regularly update the content to ensure our mostly local audience keep coming back – the kids don’t tire of it, but the carers do! To this end, we have allocated budget each year to make modifications to the space and keep it fresh and interesting.
The waterplay area was another first for us and hasn’t been without its hiccups, however a new water treatment system seems to be holding up and the exhibits here are extremely popular.
The programming space provided in the original gallery format made way for more exhibits as the area increased in popularity. Instead we run puppet shows and programmes for this audience elsewhere in the centre, rather than encroaching on the MiniQ gallery.
It was a great project to work on and it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to play with it again year after year through the ongoing funding.
Cheers
Em Blamey

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