Tag: curiosity

The New Wonder Room: Icing on the Cake


“Hi, what are you doing?” I whispered as I crouched, on hands and knees, under the treehouse.

“We’re imagining there’s a troll living up there in the treehouse,” Marina shared.  “We’re the elves.”

“Elves are nice,” added Pilar.

I smiled and joined in the creative play with Lorena and her two daughters Marina and Pilar.  Together we wondered about the ambiguous glass sculpture.  Is it a girl or boy?  Is it human or elfin?  We pretended to be mermaids climbing rocks; we stacked up piles of bamboo stones. And then, Lorena and the girls crawled away to spy on the “mean troll” living in the tree house.

The Wonder Room is back in business.

After five hectic weeks of demolition and transformation, the Wonder Room is open again. Chock-full of birds and bats, trees and mysterious creatures, this experimental gallery now flaunts a woodland theme with all new hands-on activities and an eclectic selection of art.  Curious visitors of all ages braved cold and ice to come out and play with us last month during the Wonder Room preview weeks.

Lorena and her two daughters played for hours.


Daniel, Susan, and Shirley also came to check it out.  When I met this trio, they were huddled around the tree stumps, contemplating their progress.  Their goal:  to build an arched branch — one that would span both tree stumps — using the large cardboard pieces.  Susan played the role of a human support beam while Daniel experimented with different pieces to make the structure sturdy.  Shirley offered advice from the sidelines.

As always, I relished chatting and collaborating with these and other CMA families.  As always, I observed and documented some of their conversations and actions.  As always, I looked for evidence of collaboration and creativity in action.

Situated in the very heart of the Center for Creativity, the Wonder Room is intentionally designed to foster and provoke creativity.  But creativity, we know, is like a gargantuan, multi-tiered cake; we don’t expect to take in the entire confection at one sitting.  Instead we pick away at the layers at different times in different ways.  The Wonder Room takes a big bite out of the tiers of curiosity, imagination, experimentation, and storytelling. 

To set the stage for these creative experiences, we made countless intentional design decisions to promote creative play – play inspired by unexpected discovery and exploration, play that allows for experimentation and mess-making, and play that is prompted by sharing stories, make-believe, and imaginings.

What I first noticed about Lorena and Daniel’s families is their intuitive and urgent drive to play – to invent, to explore, to experiment, to pretend.  From across the room I first watched as Lorena and her family crawled into the dark crevices under the treehouse, discovered the sleeping sculpture, and took off on their adventure.  From afar I watched Daniel, his mother and girlfriend, make bird nests, draw trees, and then, set out to build the marvelous arched tree.

For good reason, there are very few signs in the gallery currently.  I’ve learned that people don’t seem to notice signs in museums, so I spent the first few weeks watching and listening to determine what kind of signs visitors of all ages would need to encourage their creative play — to give them permission to play.

I admit that even I am surprised at how much imagining, experimenting, and storytelling has erupted spontaneously here already.  And for me, that is the icing on the cake.








Steve Jobs, Curiosity & Intuition

Steve Jobs inventions IPOD

If there’s one man who knows the value of following your curiosity and intuition it’s Apple’s Steve Jobs. Jobs is in the news again with the announcement yesterday of his new position as chairman of the board for Apple. Check out the great chart the New York Times created showing how Jobs has put his curiosity and intuition to good use creating everything from personal computers to the iPod to the iPhone and more. Over the course of his career, Steve Jobs has patented more than 300 groundbreaking products that have made our lives easier and revolutionized the way we interact in the world. As Jobs said in his commencement speech to Stanford, “Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later.”

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Jennifer Poleon, Digital Communications Manager

Travel Musings from a Museum Nerd

I am a museum nerd. I work at an art museum and I love museums of all kinds – art museums (of course), history museums, house museums, science museums and on and on. Whenever I travel I search them out… and sometimes they find me. Over the past week I travelled to Boston for a wedding and much to my elation the wedding took place at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, a cool little car museum. During the trip I made the time to go to three museums and found myself getting excited each time I saw a road sign, map marker, or billboard advertising another museum on my journey. It was when I found myself swooning over a billboard for a Zippo museum that: 1) I realized I need to get this museum fascination thing under control and 2) I began wondering exactly what is it that makes my heart skip a beat whenever I see a museum.

Then I had my aha moment. It’s curiosity. Museums not only allow me to explore my existing curiosities (such as art museums), they also allow me to build new curiosities and discover things about the world that I may otherwise never be interested in or exposed to (did you know there was a car built in 1906 that included a drawing room and a toilet?)

The capability of museums to spark our imaginations, new interests, questions and curiosities is not only exciting but essential. Tony Wagner author of The Global Achievement Gap, lists curiosity as one of the Seven Survival Skills for today’s students. Wagner states that employees “have to be new and improved knowledge workers—those who can think in disciplined ways but also those who have a burning curiosity, a lively imagination, and can engage others empathetically. Clay Parker, the president of the Chemical Management Division of BOC Edwards states “I want people who can think—they’re not just bright, they’re also inquisitive. Are they engaged, are they interested in the world?”

Regardless of whether it is at an art museum, science center or your local historical society get out there, go to a museum and be curious.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

-Jessimi Jones, Educator for Teacher and School Partnerships