Then, Now, Next! 7 years later at Imaginosity.
As we mark the lead up to our 7th Birthday celebrations, Imaginosity's General Manager Jenny Bohan takes a look back at Imaginosity's early days, while also taking a peak back at her own.
Growing up in the area, I fondly recall everlasting hot sticky days spent running along the old railway track picking blackberries to our hearts content. We would drift from a local estate in numbers and wander aimlessly exploring unchartered territory, well, as far as we were concerned anyway. But that was Sandyford then, many moons ago where the most exciting thing was a trip to the 'Tea Time Express' factory cake shop for a cream bun!
This is all hard to fathom when you view the heaving metropolis Sandyford has turned into. There's so much packed in its hard to find what you're looking for, even if you know what that is! Of course I am biased in saying the diamond in the rough has got to be Imaginosity, a stunningly beautiful building, developed by Landmark Enterprises and designed but Traynor O' Toole. But this gemstone is hidden, surrounded by towering buildings hitched up against the backdrop of the Dublin Mountains. Some are gleaming, flashy in the sunlight, some vast and void, unfinished memories of good and bad times. These beacon towers all stand sentry, watching as commuters spin past by car, on foot and light rail, but not oblivious to the memories or time flying by in the blink of an eye! Although the commuters do seem blissfully unaware of the cries of joy and screams of laughter experienced on a daily basis within this beautiful inspiring structure! If only they knew, the fun that can be had when you put your trust into the hands of a child.
I'm proud to say that I was involved in the development of this amazing and unique addition to Sandyford as a project Manager from early July 2006, and that all who were involved viewed it as a life's passion rather than a job. It was with children and community in mind that it was developed and continues to serve as a not for profit Charitable organisation. The concept gleams from the United States where the first children's museum was developed in Brooklyn in 1899, followed by Boston (1913), Detroit (1917) and Indianapolis (1925). Children's museums don't enforce strict schedules or agendas, they are places where children freely play and learn through their play. They house enhanced exciting environments that are specifically developed to allow for this non-directed play. These environments are powerful in their ability to engage children and stimulate curiosity, imagination, experimentation and role play. Children's museums celebrate children, but they also create quality experiences for families.
Cast your mind back, to those hazy summer days. Let your imagination push through the cobwebs in your mind. What pops from your hidden chamber of memories? Is it secret hiding places or mud pie creations, secret clubs you created or obstacle courses you designed, families of soft toys and dolls vying for the few measly pieces of clothing available, forts made from pillows, sofa cushions and sheets or dress up time as a doctor bandaging your poor broken teddy. Is there someone in particular, a parent or grandparent that you will forever remember as attached to a specific memory, maybe it's merely from the time they offered you, or an educational introduction to something that will now be forever attached to them in your memory ? These lists of fun times are endless, and while you ponder, take note of the smile on your face as memories and emotions flood to the forefront, memories of times when we were truly happy, engaged and present.
All of these fond memories of non-directed play have been valuable and powerful to you as you grew. Children induce meaning by collecting these rich interconnected experiences and add them to their growing bank of knowledge and understanding of how the world works. In children's museums exhibits are designed to create opportunities for emotional significant learning and provide environments that foster these encounters.
We all want the best for our children, we run from scheduled play date, to school, to camps, to afterschool activities in a frenzied desperation to stimulate and socialise our children, while trying to offer as much as we can afford, both monetarily and in terms of time. I live this life, I watch as my child grows and worry that in years to come I will look back with a sense of loss at all that I missed, concurrent to the thoughts of whether time spent with me would be more valuable than all these structured activities. But life is frantic, making it increasingly difficult to achieve a balance between work and personal life, which puts all the more emphasis on the benefits of taking a couple of hours to explore open ended play with your child, watching as they discover, create and simply become what they see in everyday life, all of this nurturing important family relationships and creating memories that can ease a troubled mom's heart.
The world changes so quickly, Sandyford being the prime example, so what of the future? What will it look like? Well now that Imaginosity is the ripe old age of 7, we can surely say that the future is bright! We are learning, growing, educating and engaging our community and its children in our own very special, distinctive and magical way. We will continue to watch children grow, learn and experience through our amazing exhibits and interactive imagination inspiring programming. We will strive to win even more awards, create wonderful partnerships and generate a greater understanding of the value and benefits of visiting this amazing educational facility. Above all we will strive to nurture children's imaginations and will, we have no doubt, become that memory that your child and mine will bring with them in a hidden box, in a cobwebbed corner of their mind. The box that helped them grow, discover and understand this crazy, fast paced world around them.