Taking kids to museums can be tricky especially when they’re expected, for the most part, to simply stand back and observe. So when an exhibit that is wholly interactive comes along, well that’s an entirely different story. The newly launched Alphabetical Sydney is in fact inspired by the “story” of Sydney itself, spelt out in the city’s iconic landmarks, nature and make up, from A for Amusement Park (aka Luna Park) to Z for Taronga Zoo.
Architect and illustrator Antonia Presenti and playwright Hillary Bell collaborated on the book, which was published in 2013 with the alphabet presenting a child-friendly concept as they revisited Sydney through the eyes of their children. The exhibit has become a living extension of the book as children are invited to rediscover the city in which they live through poetry, origami, maps and books.
Each child who attends the exhibit is handed a souvenir Lab Kit specially created for the exhibition and contains such projects as a paper bat to be hung in the night-time corner of the mini museum, a piece of paper on which to channel their inner Keats or Plath in penning poetic prose to Sydney, a ticket on which to identify where they come from and where they dream of going which can then be added to the huge wall map and much much more.
A reading corner beneath the canopy of a Moreton Bay fig tree provides the perfect opportunity to snuggle into cushioned bliss and get lost in Presenti and Bell’s ode to Sydney, along with a selection of other titles, while a craft station directs origami enthusiasts in constructing their own paper boat which my husband and son were very excited about.
Alphabetical Sydney offers the perfect opportunity to read, investigate, listen, look, write, collaborate, draw and dream as you are enticed to allow your imagination to run wild in a creative laboratory full of the sights and sounds that have become synonymous with Sydney. The sounds of the city’s urban and natural features are in themselves a feature of the exhibition, from cicadas to the ever-present sound of construction in this always expanding metropolis to the wild calls of the residents at Taronga Zoo.
Certainly, my husband and I had as much fun as our 5 and 2 year old, spending a couple of hours investigating, collaborating and indulging in all the exhibit had to offer. The creative lab at the Museum of Sydney, as it’s been dubbed, opened this weekend and will remain so until 12 August 2018 and is a free exhibit (with museum entry).
What: Alphabetical Sydney
Where: Museum of Sydney, Cnr Philip and Bridge Streets, Sydney
When: 25 November 2017 – 12 August 2018
Time: Open Daily, 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)
Cost: Exhibition is free with museum entry – adult $12, child $8, concession $8, family $30, under-five’s free
Facilities: There are baby changing and bathroom facilities on the ground level of the museum near the lifts, while the exhibit is located on level 2.
Food and Drink: The Governors Table restaurant is located next door to the museum where kids eat free with each adult main meal ordered. For bookings, contact (02) 9241 1788.
Getting There: The museum is located one block back from Circular Quay, which is serviced by trains, buses and ferries. Street parking is very limited around the museum so public transport is recommended.