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Children's architecture and planning exhibit
Detail: The Louisiana Children's Museum's exhibit, "Proud to Call It Home" showcases New Orleans architecture and construction, New Orleans' one-of-a-kind built environment and home building in general. The exhibit offers a primer on architecture, planning and construction for children and adults alike.

Museum directors conceived of the exhibit in a 2003 master plan, and fundraising began in 2004, but Hurricane Katrina delayed its completion until last fall. The museum and its board consulted with two local architects and a contractor to conceive the exhibit that covers design, planning and construction that allows children to explore both the basics of home building and New Orleans-specific concepts.

The exhibit prompts children raised in New Orleans to appreciate the historic architecture surrounding them in their neighborhoods and the city. The exhibit, located on the third floor of the Warehouse District museum, starts with a miniature Jackson Square and an interactive 300-year time line of New Orleans that quizzes visitors on architecture-based trivia. An enlarged 18th-century street map of the French Quarter serves as an example of a street grid but also points out the historical integrity of the near intact original plans of the French Quarter.

In the exhibit's "architecture studio," signs explain the concept of a floor plan, and a backlit easel invites visitors to create one with stencils. At the "design-a-house" station, children can decorate New Orleans house templates -- Creole cottage, shotgun and townhouse -- with magnetic stick-on building features.

At the "city planning table," children are encouraged to experiment with urban design by placing different types of miniature structures -- warehouses, skyscrapers, single-family houses, stores and apartment buildings -- along a child-sized Mississippi River crescent.

The construction-oriented part of the exhibit explains the strengths of different types of shapes used in building. Children can play engineer with either large foam blocks or Keva Planks, small uniform pieces that can be stacked to "build anything," Bland said.

Ruth Bloom, former education director for the museum said: "It's funny. I've seen kids who, they've been here once, and they'll immediately come here, put on an apron and a hard hat, and get to work."
Source: By Molly Reid, “BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE: Kids get hands-on lessons in construction, urban planning and New Orleans' unique architectural heritage”, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), July 10, 2010 Saturday
Date: July 15 2010