Pittsburgh Museum MakeShop: “It’s Working”

Pittsburgh Museum MakeShop: “It’s Working”

In April, I visited the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and met with Executive Director Jane Werner and her staff. They were excited to show me their MakeShop, a place inside the museum where anyone can make something. Jane told me that the museum serves families and we talked about how it was important to connect not just with kids but also their parents and grandparents. This is how we get making re-introduced into the home. Today, Jane wrote me about what she observed in MakeShop:

I had a MakeSHOP experience yesterday that made me so happy. I was doing my daily walk through around 3:00 and stopped into SewSHOP (our current prototyping theme). There were about 10 people doing various things. I walked over to the sewing machine area where a grandmother and her granddaughter were working on sewing a butterfly with the help of Rebecca from ETC. The grandmother told me that they had so much fun the day before they came back. This prompted another mother to chime in that they came at 10:00, expecting to stay an hour or two, and were still there (in fact she said she was getting hungry, that hadn’t stopped “making” even for lunch). Her nine year old son showed me the stuffed whale he was working on and then she showed me a “sand shark” her younger son (about 7) had made. At the other end of the spectrum, the day before, a man between 70 and 80 was sitting all by himself sewing away on a pin cushion for his wife.

I think it’s working!

Between the sewing, the new egg-bot, the wonderful ETC interns, and the engaged visitors, I’m a very happy person.

It’s great to have places in a community where people can drop in and get started making. I’m always amazed myself to see people sit down and engage in a project for an extended period of time and walk away with something they’ve made. I have to believe that the benefits extend beyond even that engagement.

On my visit, I particularly liked the wooden storage area for organizing tools and supplies. It’s on wheels as well.

The Children’s Museum is becoming a community hub for making in Pittsburgh. The museum will be hosting a Mini Maker Faire this fall.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty


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