This exciting, interactive child-sized world has been created in collaboration with schools, families and community groups, and features recognisable landmarks, such as the Birmingham canals, Selfridges and the Old Joe Clock Tower at the University of Birmingham.
MiniBrum may be smaller than Birmingham itself, but it can accommodate up to 300 people in its 900m2 space.
The mini city allows children to explore and question their understanding of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) world around them. Through play, the city gives children the confidence to think like scientists in real-life scenarios where they will be testing their ideas, problem solving and creating.
MiniBrum has different play zones including a home area where children can build their own dens, a burrow where children can find the hidden animals, a race track inspired by Birmingham’s upcoming Commonwealth Games, a construction zone with a climbing tower and a slide, a Post Office, and a salon.
During their visit children are encouraged to take charge of their own learning and to develop confidence as they travel around the city exploring and discovering new activities. There are also specially designed sensory zones for babies.
The space is part of a £2.1million project which has been backed by funders, with support from the Inspiring Science Fund, which is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome. Other major funders include Millennium Point Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation (DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund), Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and lead sponsor Mott MacDonald.
Planning began in 2015 to ensure the gallery was created in a unique way. The team at Thinktank have collaborated with over 800 children and families across Birmingham, who had a direct input into the creation of MiniBrum.
Schools across the West Midlands have been involved and the children’s ideas can be seen throughout. Schoolchildren from Benson Community School in Hockley have created their very own catchy hand washing song, which will be played in the MiniBrum toilets to encourage children to understand the importance of washing their hands.
The ‘Germs Journey’ project was a collaboration between researchers at De Montfort University Leicester and music practitioners from Bridge Arts who helped the children bring their ideas to life at Birmingham City University’s sound studio.
Children from Henley Montessori School in Henley-in-Arden were also involved in curating their very own ‘Mini Museum’ within the space. The children led the whole process, choosing the objects to go on display from Birmingham’s collection and thinking carefully about how to make their exhibits engaging for all.
Lauren Deere, Museum Manager at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, said: “MiniBrum is nearly here and we can’t wait for our visitors to see this amazing new space. It’s a brilliant new addition to the museum which will inspire the next scientists, mathematicians and engineers of the future!
“The project has been made possible thanks to our funders and collaborators who helped us to bring MiniBrum to life, and we are extremely thankful for their support. It’s been amazing to adopt a new strategy, where children are at the forefront of the design process. Their involvement helped us see everything from a child’s perspective, which makes MiniBrum a truly unique space. This is an ongoing project, so we are excited to work with new schools and families to ensure that MiniBrum develops over the coming months and years.”
MiniBrum includes Coffee Corner, with refreshments and snacks, a buggy park, lockers, accessible toilets and baby change facilities. It has been created with all children in mind, as Thinktank’s team also consulted with the Disability Collaborative Network for Museums to ensure the new space is accessible to visitors.
The gallery also includes an interactive classroom called ‘The Den’ which increases Thinktank’s capacity for school group visits, with a new range of workshops available.
Elsewhere at Thinktank, the new 4K Planetarium is open and ready for visitors to adventure through the solar system with brighter sharper imagery and crystal-clear surround sound.
Thinktank’s new-look cafe, Signal Box Cafe, is also open to the public, with a new tasty food menu. The cafe is inspired by the City of Birmingham steam engine which can be seen while visitors enjoy their food.
Entry to MiniBrum is included in the ticket price to Thinktank. To find out more about Thinktank, visit: www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/thinktank.