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Gallery 2: Tinkering

Gallery 2
Explore your creativity and our curious contraptions.

Making things and developing ideas by hand helps us construct understanding. Slow down, settle in, and make something personally meaningful—from playful contraptions to surprising connections between mechanical systems and natural phenomena.

A tall, fanciful, interactive Tinkerer’s Clock towers over Gallery 2, welcoming you to a public workshop area where you can make, build, or tinker, either alone or with others, as a way of exploring the world and your own creativity. Here, familiar materials are used in unfamiliar ways, and exhibits highlight the beauty—and, sometimes, whimsy—of scientific complexity and discovery.

The Tinkering Studio is the heart of this gallery. In this immersive space, visitors use tools and materials to explore the intersection of science, art, and technology. We try experiments for the first time, or play along with other makers and artists. Whether expert of novice, we’re all learning together by making something that is personally meaningful.

Adjacent to the gallery is the museum’s exhibit-building workshop, where most of our exhibits are made. Open to public view, you’ll see our staff working with a variety of materials—woodworking tools, drills, and lathes, for example—and some of our exhibits in various stages of development.

The Learning Studio is also in the gallery space. It serves as a research-and-development lab for staff and artists/collaborators. Here, we try things out, make mistakes, get excited, become delighted, and every now and then stumble on to something great that we share with visitors in the Tinkering Studio and in professional development workshops for teachers and museum educators. 

Mike Petrich and Karen Wilkinson, Curators