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Creativity Gallery

Creativity is the ability to challenge, question and explore. Play helps children to develop social skills, and build confidence and self-esteem. Although creativity is often seen as being confined to the arts, it is fundamental to advances in science, maths, technology, politics, business, and all areas of everyday life. The Museum's Creativity Gallery is made up of four sections – Imagine, Be Inspired, Explore and Make it Happen.

Creativity Gallery


A big part of being creative is the use of the imagination. Imaginative play for children is often based around some of the activities and objects that children are already familiar with. Puppets, stories, soft toys and teddies all enable children to create their own imaginative worlds. From a very early age children play at being miniature versions of adults, using toys that imitate the tools of the adult world, such as tea sets and lawn mowers. Through this type of activity, they develop different social skills, such as empathy in role play, and negotiation, in sharing their toys with others. The imagination can also provide an escape and a means for children to come to terms with experiences they find difficult, such as sibling rivalry. It can also give them a sense of control over their environment and help them find their place within the world.

Imagine is divided into the following themes: Alone or with a Friend; Imaginary Friends; Children in Charge; Who Needs Toys?; Early Play; Making up Stories and Growing Out of Imaginary Play. Toys featured in this area include: Sindy, Tressy and Barbie, Action Man, Weebles, Hibberd dolls' house, teddy bears, Holly Hobbie playsets, Javanese puppets and more.

Be Inspired

Children often adapt their toys and surroundings to suit their games. They might decide to fill a dolls' house with animals from a Noah's ark, or make a tent out of a washstand and a sheet. Creative ideas can come when you look at something from a different angle. Having lots of ideas and choosing the best of them is a good problem-solving technique. Albert Einstein once said, 'We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.'

Be Inspired is divided into the following themes: Classic Fantasy; Superheroes Saving the World; Space, the Final Frontier; People are Inspired in Different Ways; People are Inspired by Many Things; Starting with the Familiar and Inspired by the Familiar. Toys featured in this area include: Chinese Rock Gardens, teddy bears, Superman, Wonder Woman and Incredible Hulk, Star Wars, Playsack and more.


Human beings have always made use of a huge variety of materials to make things. Our ancestors found items, such as shells and dead wood, and turned them into tools. The more materials and ideas children are familiar with, the more creative they will become. Good ideas don't always come easily. You often have to try and try again until you get the result you are looking for. The famous inventor Thomas Edison once said; 'I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.'

The development of a child's artistic skills encourages them to develop their creative side. The use of science kits also requires children to investigate, observe and problem solve. Albert Einstein saw the value of creative thinking in science experiments, claiming that 'to raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.' Building blocks are also valuable educational toys, helping to develop a child's hand-eye co-ordination, as well as enabling them to learn how to put things together.

Explore is divided into the following themes: Try, Try and Try Again; Exploring Art and Science; Build it Up and Knock it Down and Exploring Materials. Toys featured in this area include: Dolls, writing desks for children and Minibrix.

Make it Happen

The Make it Happen section of the Creativity Gallery displays toys created by other children, many of which were made from everyday household objects and materials. Make it Happen is divided into the following themes: Made by You; Made by Children and The Making Process. Toys featured in this area include: A toy helicopter donated by Nelson Mandela, samplers, exercise books and more.

The Creativity Gallery also features interactive activities for children including Build it Up and Small-world Play, the Childhood Cube (2000), an installation by the late artist Sarah Raphael, and the Sensory Pod, an interactive area designed to aid learning, relaxation and fun.

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