Curiosity and creativity drive artists and scientists alike to examine their surroundings. With that philosophy in mind, the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art builds interactive exhibits and programs that spur curiosity and creative experimentation, emphasizing open-ended experiences through their hands-on exhibits and temporary installations. For seven years, RIMOSA has hosted pop-up science, technology, engineering, art and math programs in libraries and schools statewide; in June it opened a permanent location on Westminster Street.
Access is the primary incentive for creating this new brick-and-mortar location, according to Bonnie Epstein, RIMOSA’s interim executive director. “By having a dedicated space, we are available to so many more people. They can come and stay at any exhibit or activity for as long or as little time as they like, and, best of all, they can come in groups that are not age limited as so many programs are. So entire multigenerational families can come and work together to make a marble roller coaster or show each other their zoetrope animations.”
Visitors can expect to find hands-on exhibits presented without instructions – the activities are open-ended and open to interpretation. At the zoetrope activity, for example, visitors can design their own animations while also appreciating the mechanics behind the technology. Other exhibits, such as the Flight Tube and Gear Table, have more ambiguous intentions and are designed to be tinkered with by visitors at their leisure.
Bonnie started RIMOSA with a group of like-minded individuals whose “observations made them curious, and they satisfied that curiosity by fiddling and tinkering with things,” she explains. “They found that hands-on experimentation was the best way they knew to interact with the world, and they also saw that the ability to experience the world in that way, in all its mess and mistakes, wasn’t generally available. [They] wanted a space where people of all ages could have that experience with their families, friends and others in Rhode Island.”