Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums at Ecsite conference, June 6-9 (Conference)

Posted: Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Hands On! International Association of Children in Museums will actively participate in this year's Ecsite conference Creative Collisions hosted by the Natural History Museum Geneva on June 6-9 2018 and invite you to participate in sessions. Deadline for proposals of participation is the 15 February 2018.

This year, they will present three formats exploring various aspects of the conflict between creating interactive environments encouraging physical activity and keeping visitors safe. Their aim is to heighten the awareness and the visibility of children in museums and science centers in a wider professional community.

Call: Best Practice
Present a project, which tests the limits of safety guidelines and legal situations in your country. Share insights on how you work, obstacles you are facing, and how you brought together the opposing issues of safety and physical activities.

Session content:
As researches show, today's children are significantly lacking possibilities for free play and similar open settings for physical activities. Science Centers and museums are challenged to fill these gaps with hands-on exhibits and encouraging environments, which allow children to practice and develop their motor skills. Inviting people of all ages and capabilities to actively engage with exhibits and tools of course entails a number of legal and ethic issues, like liability, which have the potential to threaten the organizations as a whole. In most countries we experience the increasing tendency to pass off the individual responsibility of visitors to the hosts.
This development forces institutions of informal learning to adopt detailed safety policies and safety seals, causing the repression of innovative participatory formats. Questions like, ‘How can science centres and museums provide children with hands-on activities within highly standardized legal structures?' ‘How are safety issues addressed in different countries', ‘Which safety issues do institutions face?' and ‘How far do we dare to push our luck in terms of safety?' will be raised and discussed during this interactive session.


I. Keynotes
Two expert speakers will share give valuable input about the topics of safety and free play, followed by a participatory discussion.
II. Best practice
Share your project!
III. Workshop
Case study

Please note:
We only have a limited number of speaker slots available, but we might offer you a slot in our sessions for the main conference (see description below)

Call: Real-life accidents
Share an actual accident, which took place on the premises of your institution.
Each speaker is granted two minutes speaking time to outline the circumstances and the events of an accident involving visitors. We want to know what happened, why it happened, how it was handled, which actions were taken to prevent similar accidents and how the experience influences future projects.
Session contents:
This session takes this year's conference theme Creative Collisions literally: We will discuss real-life accidents in the exhibitions and programmes of Ecsite and Hands On! member-organizations.
After a short convenor's input, a series of various accidents experienced by the speakers will be presented in a PechaKucha-like format, granting each speaker two minutes to outline the circumstances and the events of one accident involving their visitors. Furthermore, they will also list which actions were taken by their institution to prevent similar accidents in the future.
The presentations are followed by a guided discussion about accident management, relevant guidelines, communication strategies, and other issues relevant to ensure a sensitive and effective follow-up of incidents.

Please note: According to Ecsite's speakers policy, participation at this lecture will be at your own expenses. Early bird registration starts on 14 February 2018.

Call: Innovative formats
Share your creative exhibits and exhibition formats, which encourage visitors to create, build, tinker or get physically active within the exhibition spaces. Questions like, ‘Which obstacles in terms of safety and legal issues did you face?', ‘Which ideas didn't make the cut, due to safety concerns?' should be taken up for the presentation.

Session contents:
This session will explore the difficulties curators and exhibition designers face, when trying to implement new maker- inspired exhibition concepts. On the one hand, today's visitors are expecting highly engaging hands-on experiences, on the other hand, they are quick to blame operators of Science Centres and museums for the slightest inconveniences. Especially when working with families and schools, institutions are often understood to be absolutely liable and are frequently confronted with claims for compensation. The fear of law sue also effects the exhibit planning process, especially when it comes to open maker activities involving real tools or other highly participatory formats. This session presents different innovative exhibition formats, which encourage people to create items within the exhibition spaces, build structures or get physically active beyond the normal level. We will explore how the creation of open participatory formats is threatened by the urge of institutions to legally protect themselves. How can Science Centres and Museums balance both, innovation and legal security? What would exhibition makers like to offer, but do not dare to tackle given the current situation? How can children develop motor skills and creativity within these very restricted settings? Which legal framework do these formats need? Is there a way out?These and similar questions will be discussed after the presentation of the best practice examples.

Please note: According to Ecsite's speakers policy, participation at this lecture will be at your own expenses. Early bird registration starts on 14 February 2018.

Click here to download further information and for details of the submission process.