I hadn’t heard of the Arlington Arts Center until recently when their very kid-friendly new exhibit opened. Play: Tinker, Tech, & Toy is a very interactive exhibit that my kids and I had tons of fun playing with. In it, toys and common objects are turned into art and much of it is completely accessible to visitors.
The fun starts right when you walk through the door when kids (and any willing adults) are asked to follow red lines on the floor to hop through the museum’s first room. Art made with Magnatiles and other toys line the walls. Kids are also invited to hop on giant representations of meat for a ride.
Another great feature of the exhibit is a very large “house” made from everyday objects like cardboard, duct tape, and springs. Kids can turn on switches to operate an electric train and fans as well as bounce Lego mini-figures and zoom toy cars down ramps. Another room with gorgeous floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows has coloring books and colored pencils set out to invite kids to draw among the exhibits.
We almost missed going downstairs, but I’m glad a helpful employee steered us there. Once downstairs we found ourselves in a bright, colorful carnival-themed room with a fountain filled with rubber ducks. Children are invited to play with the ducks in or out of the water. The highlight of the exhibit for many children is the interactive video game involving a candy factory. Children need to follow
The Arlington Arts Center is pretty small. Knowing this, I had planned to spend an hour or less in the exhibit. However, my kids were having so much fun we could have easily stayed twice that long and they already asked when we could go back.
Admission is free but there is a $5.00 suggested donation. Rides on the giant meat sculptures (something I never thought I would write) cost fifty cents so bring quarters if you would like your child to go for a short ride. Parking is free in the museum’s small parking lot.
Play at the Arlington Arts Center is a great way to expose even very young children to the arts without telling them to be quiet or not to touch! Although small, Play: Tinker, Tech & Toy packs a big punch into a little space.
Photos courtesy of Jamie Davis Smith.