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THEMUSEUM Community Stage: Friends of THEMUSEUM: Cam Turner

Community members are a very important aspect of THEMUSEUM. Our staff and volunteers interact with members of the Kitchener-Waterloo community on a daily basis, and do their absolute best to ensure they are always entertained, inspired and enlightened. Cam Turner helped THEMUSEUM spearhead Maker Club, and has also gone on to start his own organization, Tinker Truck. Maker Club sessions, which run once a month, have sold out consistently for the past six months. Through these programs, children have been learning how to tinker, hack, create, imagine, and experience new methods of hands-on learning.

How did you initially become involved with THEMUSEUM?

Initially, in the Fall of 2012, my family and I were sitting around the kitchen table trying to decide what my son wanted to do: did he want to do karate, or soccer, or something like that? And he said “I want to get together with my friends and make stuff, like with saws.” I said, well, that’s gotta exist in town, especially with all the creativity. And it didn’t exist! So we were like, well, we’re going to have to make this club ourselves, and through my professional network at the time I ended up getting introduced to Meaghan [THEMUSEUM’s Director of Sales and Strategic Initiatives], so it just sort of went from there; it was a perfect match, and we’ve been exploring how to do it ever since.

Was there a specific reason why you wanted to host Maker Club at THEMUSEUM, or why you thought the two fit together?

Obviously there’s location. It’s a very convenient location for people to get to and we wanted to make sure that Maker Club was inclusive, and it can cater to a wide variety of people being in Downtown Kitchener; it was ideal. The history that THEMUSEUM has as a space for children was also fantastic. And just the willingness to participate and the willingness to collaborate on how to make it go from the staff here, as soon as we started those conversations we stopped looking everywhere else.

If you could create a new community event or expand on Maker Club for THEMUSEUM, how would that project unfold?

I am making a new community event! I’m working with a group of nine other people to bring Maker Expo to Downtown Kitchener. That will be 10,000 people and 150 exhibitors, one of which will be Maker Club. The whole culture of making and do-it-yourself, and try anything, and figure-it-out, that whole angle we believe is in everybody, so we want to do that.

In terms of community events and programs at THEMUSEUM, besides Maker Club, is there one that really stands out for you?

I’ve been impressed with a lot of the stuff that THEMUSEUM is doing after hours to try and up the age perception. A lot of them I’ve wanted to participate in myself, and I’ve liked the variety of exhibits that have been coming through. In terms of events it’s mostly about the ones that are pushing the boundaries of what THEMUSEUM is known for.

Is there anything specific about THEMUSEUM that you would recommend to families?

Aside from the obvious – that there’s a lot of hands on and interactive stuff – it’s just a good atmosphere to explore and play, and figure out through doing with no scripted stuff. Without fail, every time we walk through the doors we spend at least a half hour [with] the blocks on the main floor in the atrium. We are not allowed to come to THEMUSEUM without spending at least 20 minutes or half an hour playing with them. And I’m constantly amazed at the number of things that the kids come up with. It’s the angle that there is no right or wrong way that attracts me the most. That families could stand to explore more, that there is no right or wrong way kind of activities. Every sort of other activity you can do that isn’t creative has a right and wrong way, and my perception is that there isn’t enough of the “just exploring” aspect.

If you could pick three words to describe THEMUSEUM, what would they be?

Vibrant. Exploratory. Risk-taking.