LAB 102, a space dedicated to community engagement and programs that promote curiosity, innovation, and invention, opened November 8, 2016 at the Berkshire Museum. In LAB 102, children and families will discover an array of hands-on activities focused on creative play and incorporating experiences that reflect concepts drawn from both the arts and science.
According to Craig Langlois, Berkshire Museum’s chief experience officer, much of the new programming planned for LAB 102 was inspired by Spark!Lab, the temporary exhibition hosted by Berkshire Museum that was developed at the Smithsonian Institution by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the National Museum of American History. Spark!Lab, which has been part of the programming at the Berkshire Museum since October 2014, is now closed.
“We plan to build on our success in hosting more than 45,000 visitors for Spark!Lab experiences over the past two years by increasing the diversity of programs in LAB 102 to reach new audiences,” says Langlois.
Some of the rotating and changing experiences planned for LAB 102 include a number of self-directed creative play opportunities using an assortment of building toys and materials such as TEGU magnetic blocks, colorful connector straws, LEGO, and regular wooden blocks. An over-sized ‘exquisite corpse’-style iterative drawing project will be offered, inviting visitors to add to and embellish the artwork created by previous participants. Science-based activities will be available, from learning about electricity using miniature LED lights to discovering robotics and even exploring forensics. Collaborative art-making projects utilizing found objects and recycled or materials will be part of the LAB 102 experience as well.
LAB 102 is a rapid prototyping space, an area in the Museum where the members of the Experience team will be able to test ideas for new interactive stations and experiment with a range of activities designed to inspire children and families to explore their skills in invention, innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration. Flexing their skills in these key areas builds confidence and empowers kids to succeed, not only in school and play but in their futures.
LAB 102 combines the space previously devoted to Spark!Lab and the adjacent area used for community engagement and the presentation of the Museum’s BerkshireNow series that showcases the work of area creatives. The space was renovated to accommodate new programming in 2014 with support from the Feigenbaum Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and the Rotary Club of Pittsfield.