Whilst the Australian Museum had considered the needs of young children when designing interactive areas for some time, it was not until the late 1990's that we had a designated area for pre-schoolers.
On the 29th of May, 1999 The Art of Eric Carle Exhibition opened. This opening coincided with the opening of Kids Island - an interactive area for the Under 5's.
The exhibition was planned with the assistance of Early Childhood academics from Macquarie University and was designed to be developmentally appropriate for young children whilst also appealing to adults who had enjoyed reading the Eric Carle books to children.
The exhibition displayed 50 original framed artworks of Eric Carle with platforms to make the pictures accessible to children. To help children engage with the pictures, questions were displayed next to each art work. Two other sections in the exhibition were activity based. Activities generated from the animals in '1,2,3 To The Zoo' by Eric Carle were separated from the 'Star and Fireflies' Area. Here the children were able to use the guidelines from Eric Carle’s book' Draw Me A Star' to draw on a blackboard window. As well, there was an inviting area for reading and storytelling.
A 'Teacher’s Guide' with developmentally appropriate activities to do before, during and after a visit to the exhibition was produced by the IED Arts Unit, Macquarie University.
Finally a ‘caterpillar trail’ was designed to guide the visitors around the museum to see the animals featured in the exhibition.