UA Art Museum Introduces Tinkerlab for Young Makers

Given the rise of the makerspace movement, UAMA has introduced a space meant to foster experimentation, problem solving and creativity.
June 26, 2017
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The UA Museum of Art engages diverse audiences, inspires critical dialogue and champions art as essential to our lives. The museum's permanent collection includes masterpieces that span eight centuries and innumerable artistic styles. UAMA offers a year-round schedule of exhibitions, programming and events designed to incite conversations related to the history and meaning of the visual arts.

The Tinkerlab contains books, open-sketch materials, blocks for building and mobile-creation activities.
The Tinkerlab contains books, open-sketch materials, blocks for building and mobile-creation activities.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art has introduced the Tinkerlab, its first-ever makerspace.

The Tinkerlab features activities that combine art, science, engineering and other disciplines in hands-on activities for chidren of all ages, and also adults.

A partnership with the University Library's iSpace, the UA College of Engineering and the Sonoran Glass School, it allows the space to feature activities that bridge subjects and offer new levels of learning and insight into the science and engineering behind art.

"Tinkerlabs provide a space for children and adults to experiment, build, take apart and explore the range of possibilities with new materials," said Chelsea Farrar, UAMA's curator of community engagement. "These activities are meaningful for learners of all ages, which is why a makerspace at the University of Arizona Museum of Art is so special."

The Tinkerlab will be stocked with books, open-sketch materials, blocks for building and mobile-creation activities. Special mentor-led challenges, including robot building, sewing, and fort and house building, will be offered on a rotating schedule. All activities are designed to foster critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration through fun, hands-on engagement.

"There is a strong link between engineering and the arts: Both are highly creative, and many of our engineering students are also musicians and artists," said Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering, a sponsor of the Tinkerlab. "Hands-on construction experience helps build future engineers, who will use their creative skills to improve society."

The makerspace phenomenon has created environments all over the country that foster experimentation, invention, problem solving and creativity. These environments in many ways echo the artist studios of the Renaissance, when artists, inventors, engineers and scientists were not considered to be from separate disciplines.

The fun runs until Sept. 3.  

"We want to encourage everyone to remain curious about our world," Farrar said, "and the Tinkerlab will provide a space for learners of all ages to practice being makers and rule breakers."

View a video of the Tinkerlab by Mari Cleven, senior videographer for the UA Office of Research, Discovery and Innovation: