Kids' museum challenges throwaway mentality with repair exhibition

Broken? Fix it! Exhibition
© LICM

It really wasn't that long ago when many people chose to repair a broken item instead of trashing it and getting a new one, and the ability to fix at least some of our own things was fairly common. But the advent of more advanced (and somewhat mysterious) technology in our personal goods, coupled with the relatively cheap price to replace them, has brought about a throwaway mentality in our culture, which has also led to massive waste and environmental issues.

What if we could foster and nurture a repair mentality in its place, especially in the younger generations, so that instead of merely replacing an item with a new one, they were empowered to take on a 'can-do attitude, roll their sleeves up, and get their hands dirty?

"Children used to learn about things like this in home economics classes or shop, but that’s been phased out in some schools, and kids today have lost that knowledge. We want them to realize they have the ability to fix things." - Maureen P. Mangan, director of communications and marketing at Long Island Children's Museum

The Broken? Fix it! exhibition at the Long Island Children's Museum (LICM) is doing exactly that. The hands-on project aims to build creative thinking and problem solving skills, as well as foster cooperation and teamwork by encouraging families and groups to "solve broken things" together.

"Broken? Fix it! invites visitors to embrace the broken as they discover the joy and satisfaction in making things whole or usable again. The exhibit encourages children and adults to learn together to diagnose problems, then roll up their sleeves and get inside the repair process. Visitors try their hand at a variety of fix-it activities, including figuring out why the car thumps and clangs, getting a bike rolling again, repairing a shoe and fixing a toy train track. The exhibit looks at cultural “fixes” from around the world, and explores the emotional consequences of breaks as well." - LICM

The bilingual exhibit, which runs through January 5th, 2014, features some 200 broken and repairable objects for visitors to explore, from books to bicycles, and from watches and jewelry to electronics. It also includes videos that highlight both the repair process and the people who make those repairs. And the exhibit isn't just for those in the Long Island area, as it will be traveling on a two year tour after January, to other museums across the U.S..

Tags: Do It Yourself | Technology