The Celebrating 50 Years of Play School exhibition is currently being held at The National Museum of Australia, five minutes from Canberra's CBD. The Museum has free entry and permanent exhibitions to enjoy throughout the year as well as temporary exhibits that visit for short time. The Play School exhibition is one such exhibition, running between the 7th of May and 24th of July, before moving on to the next location on tour.
The National Museum is an interesting place for all Australians and visitors to explore, to see exhibits which reflect back on our history and how they affect the present day. The Play School exhibition fits in perfectly, as it has shaped the children of Australia for the past 50 years. From humble beginnings in 1966, Play School now has more than one million viewers tune into the show each week. This exhibition will take you back to your own childhood and also be enjoyed by a new generation of Play School fans today.
Although I wasn't sure what to expect, I must admit that the exhibition was smaller than I expected for the entry fee. It is one large room full of memorabilia, however what it may lack in size it exceeds in content. In the middle of the space is a bright yellow birthday cake to celebrate their 50th birthday and sitting on top are all your favourite Play School friends. Around the outside of the cake there are games for pre-schoolers to play at their level, including changing the colour of party hats on the board or moving a toggle along the maze.
As you walk around, expect the Play School song to go around in your head as episodes are played from several TV screens around the exhibition. Feel free to sing along, as most people at the exhibition are singing too. It is intriguing to touch the screen, select the years of your childhood and stand back and watch an episode from your era. The memories of your childhood will come flooding in, seeing presenters and characters that you had long forgotten. With over 50 years of history, the characters you remember are sure to be there.
There is also a photo board of some of the more famous presenters over the years and up to the present day. Your kids will be amazed that Play School was around when you were a child and they will enjoy pointing out their favourites seen today.
Walking around the exhibition, take a look at the arch, square and round window props that were used over the decades. In 1976 the rocket ship clock was added to the props on the show and it is at the exhibition turning around to reflect the scene behind, as it did back then.
There are also props from the shows of today including Big Ted's Big Adventure and Humpty's Big Adventure. For those who sing along to the "Dinosaur Stomp" songs with your kids, the actual dinosaur model is behind the glass to see. See a script from one of the shows and look at toilet roll crafts from yesteryear. There is even a display that tells you how many recycled egg cartons, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes are used in an average year in their craft times.
An interesting part of the exhibition is the range of Jemima's clothes that she has worn over the decades, reflecting the changes in women's clothing over the era's. During the 60's she even wore a mini skirt to keep up with the changing times.
If your kids start to get bored there is an ipPad area where they can play ABC TV apps and games with stepping stones so they can stand at varying heights. There is also a cushion area with storybooks and a table set up where they can decorate a party hat to take home. If your kids would like to leave a message or draw a picture for the Play School show, they can do so on a paper flag that will be hung up on display.
A quick tip for parents taking kids; whilst walking around the exhibition you may see kids wandering around with their brand new Jemimas and Big Teds. The National Museum Gift Shop outside the exhibition has Play School books and merchandise for sale (with soft toys averaging $35) if you want to buy any for your kids, or avoid it.
The Celebrating 50 Years of Play School exhibition was an enjoyable hour for myself and my preschool age daughter to enjoy the show together. We watch Play School countless times a week and both have our own personal favourite presenters and songs (who doesn't love singing "lah-de-da-de-dah" at the Little Green Frog song). As a mother I am happy that the Play School memories of my own childhood are now firmly planted in hers for another generation. To enjoy this exhibition, see here for more information and how to book.