www.thebermudian.com FALL 2014 | 17
The Museum Playhouse
The newest addition to the National Museum of Bermuda is a
bold and brilliant achievement of modern, pragmatic design.
ART • CULTURE • SPORTS
WRITTEN BY W. C. STEVENSON
Step inside the new Museum Playhouse at the National Museum of Bermuda and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve been magi- cally transported into the kid’s room of some artsy, Brooklyn loft.
Look closer, though, and you’ll realise you haven’t in fact discovered
teleportation. The 15 interactive exhibits chronicling Bermudian history, designed by Russell DeMoura and James Cooper, strike a bold,
pastel-coloured contrast to the usual austere approach to our island’s
past. It’s almost a shame the room is reserved for children.
DeMoura, a graphic designer, and Cooper, a local artist, have managed to incorporate fun, visually striking designs into a room that
also teaches and informs. Whether it’s the history of the Royal Naval
Dockyard, pilot gigs, agriculture or how to tie a knot, kids are interacting with Bermudian history in a whole new way.
“We both have fairly young kids and have been to enough places
designed ‘for kids’ that just do not engage with them whatsoever,” said
Cooper. “[ The Museum Playhouse] has passed that test with my kids
and Russell’s, too. They really do engage with everything in here.”
“We tested almost everything on them,” explained DeMoura.
Led by DeMoura’s background in graphic design, the two—
having worked together previously as Fungus Art Collective—set out to
build an exhibit that could match the museum’s collection in terms of
content, but is also just plain old fun.
“There is nothing like it on the island,” said the museum’s curator
and deputy director, Elena Strong. “The playhouse is fun, creatively designed and aimed to encourage family learning and foster an appreciation of our rich local history at an early age.
“Today, children are bombarded with tablets and other high-tech
gadgets so we purposefully avoided electronic interactives and sought
inspiration from old-fashioned games. However, there is nothing old-
fashioned about this exhibit!”
The task of creating a room that was both robust and interactive was
a tough one, explained DeMoura. “It was a pretty big challenge to have
something that nobody needed to look after a whole lot. It cuts out a
lot of your ideas really quickly. So finding that balance has been great.”
“Some of the stories [of Bermuda‘s history] can become a little bit
repetitive. You see the same stories over and over again. We wanted to
try and focus on things kids haven‘t heard already, or look at them in
fresh ways,” said Cooper.
The project was sponsored by the ACE Foundation–Bermuda and
matches perfectly with the equally brilliant museum playground, also
sponsored by ACE Foundation–Bermuda, which opened last year.
“[ The playground] certainly influenced us. We wanted to do something in here that could compete with it on a visual level,” said Cooper.
The exhibit also includes commissioned work by local artists Emma
Sloan and Sami Lill of the creative advertising agency, Uber Super
“ACE Foundation–Bermuda is pleased to support the work of
the National Museum of Bermuda,” said Lori Samson, chair of ACE
Foundation–Bermuda. “The Museum Playhouse and playground have
not only provided a fun, adventurous and educational experience for
our local children to connect with Bermuda’s history, but the project
also restored a nineteenth-century military building and is a wonderful
addition to Bermuda’s cultural tourism and family education resources.”