One of the most brilliant and effective aspects of Thinktank is the Science Garden. It was the only one of its kind in the UK at time of planning, providing a place for children to get hands on with their learning. It not only represents one more fantastic interactive space for visitors of the museum, but it also functions as a community space. It is immensely popular and attracted 16,000 additional visitors to the museum in the first year of its opening – a real success story!
It is set within the city’s Eastside Park, and has really become an integral part of the landscape. The museum lets the public in to use this space for free after 3pm– another way in which it is endeavouring to be as accessible as possible to local people, and audiences who wouldn’t necessarily usually be able to visit the museum. We were told that this garden can have up to 200 people enjoying the space on a really busy day! This is just one of the many ways in which Thinktank tries to care for and give back to the local community. I thought it was a really great example of the application of the principles of public engagement and public benefit, as set out in the MA’s Code of Ethics. In reaching out to new and diverse audiences, it also fits seamlessly within the mission set out by the Birmingham Museums Trust.
Other schemes the museum has started to this end includes their yearly open days, which give local residents a voucher to enter the museum and 50% off a yearly family pass. They also operate an extensive schools outreach programme.