Jordan Times
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jordan's first interactive Children's Museum to open next year

AMMAN (JT) — In less than 15 months, children in the Kingdom will be able to explore and learn more about the world around them through a Children's Museum which seeks to create interactive learning experiences, encouraging and nurturing lifelong learning for children and their families.

Speaking at the first board of trustees' meeting of the Children's Museum Society on Monday, Her Majesty Queen Rania said the museum would seek to expand its outreach to engage children from remote communities by developing various outreach programs and facilities designed to bridge the knowledge and exposure gap. The museum will also work with and encourage the Ministry of Education to ensure that regular organized access to the museum is provided to all children.

The project, initiated by Queen Rania, stems from her commitment to children's education, well-being, and development. Complementing the national curriculum by providing a supplementary learning experience that builds on classroom learning, the museum will enhance children's appreciation of their national identity by exposing them to the diverse elements of the Jordanian environment: Flora and fauna, geology, archaeology, history and culture.

Seeking to become a flagship children's museum of world distinction and a regional leader among museums and cultural institutions serving children and families in the Arab world, the museum will be the first interactive and educational institution of its kind in Jordan, and will be situated in King Hussein Park.

Conceived and designed by UK and Jordanian design houses specifically for children 14 years and younger, the museum is built on a 20,000-square-metre plot of land donated by the Municipality of Greater Amman. It will feature more than 150 hands-on exhibits and encourage multisensory exploration and understanding of the arts, sciences, technology, industry, and the value of the national identity, along with accompanying innovative and educational multimedia resources and programs. The museum also includes a number of facilities: A children's library and IT centre, a planetarium, a café?, an auditorium, an activities centre, an outdoor theatre and a museum shop.

During the meeting chaired by Queen Rania, the board discussed the museum's mission and objectives and the need for adopting and implementing innovative approaches and activities in developing children's knowledge and encouraging their creativity and self-exploration.

The board also emphasized the importance of having an open but structured framework, which will complement school curricula and classroom learning, engaging children in all stages of development, including those with special needs.

Operated as an independent not-for-profit establishment, the first phase of the project was made possible through the commitment of several corporate founding partners.

During yesterday's meeting, Greater Amman Mayor Nidal Hadid was elected vice president of the board of trustees. Members of the board include Minister of Finance Bassem Awadallah, Fastlink CEO Mohammad Saqer, Nestle Middle East CEO Alexandre Cantacuzene, Dubai-based Emaar Properties CEO Mohammad Abbar, Hmoud Oliemat, Ghassan Nuqul, Akram Abu Hamdan, Khalid Nahhas, Samar Doudin, Abla Zureikat and Saed Karajeh.

Following the meeting, Queen Rania accompanied board members on a visit to the museum's construction site, situated adjacent to the Royal Automobile Museum, where Her Majesty laid the cornerstone of the museum, expected to be completed by the end of summer 2006.

The Children's Museum will encourage curiosity, creativity, discovery and self-expression. Its innovative, interactive exhibits will invite hands-on participation, enticing children to explore and experience their environment and the world beyond. Unlike traditional museums, where objects are viewed from behind glass cases or velvet ropes, the children's museum will be a place where learning is brought to life.

Children will be encouraged to learn by using a multisensory approach that also encourages parent/child interaction. The museum seeks to be accessible to the community at large and expose children from all backgrounds, and of different abilities, to a stimulating and fun educational environment.

The exhibits will be organized under three main themes: Humankind, the natural world and technology, with multiple sub-themes such as mechanics, robotics, communications, creativity, the human body, animals and plants, astronomy, earth and geology.

The exhibits fall into a broad spectrum of types: From those that require noisy full-body participation, to those that encourage reflection and contemplation. Some exhibits will require teamwork, strategy and planning. Ultimately, children will be encouraged to follow their own learning agendas and indulge their inquisitive and adventurous natures.