Extraordinary Playscapes

Start Date

June 8, 2016

End Date

September 5, 2016





Featured in The Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, FastCo Exist, WBUR’s The ARTeryNext City, and Curbed.

This national exhibition and education program explores the latest thinking in playground design while presenting how vital free play is to childhood development, thriving communities, and social equity.

What we learn through play impacts our physical, mental, social, and creative health — and designers, architects, and play advocates are taking notice. Extraordinary Playscapes examines the art, history, science, and importance of play, while telling the story behind some of the most incredible play spaces in the world.  Featuring over 40 international playgrounds, drawings, sketches, videos, scale models, and playable installations, the interactive exhibition examines the importance of play and the latest thinking in playground design. From towering treetop paths to hand-knit crochet playgrounds, visitors will discover how architects and designers worldwide are engaging diverse communities to translate play objectives into state-of-the-art and meaningful environments.

Playground Passport

Explore Boston playgrounds this summer with our interactive Playground Passport!

Along with the public exhibition, we’re taking the program right to your local playgrounds. Design Museum Boston kiosks will highlight and tell the story behind some of greater Boston’s most amazing playgrounds: who designed it, what strategies it is using, and more. Pick up a playground passport at the exhibition or a participating playground and take the tour this summer.

Public Events:

Extraordinary Playscapes will incorporate interactive experiences, educational programming, talks, and children’s workshops throughout the summer.

Opening Reception
June 8, 2016, Design Museum and BSA Member Reception: 5:00 – 6:00pm;
Public Reception: 6:00 – 8:00pm

Read about the opening event here!

A Play on Modular Design with Richard Dattner
June 9, 2016, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Free and open to the public

UNITE: The Problem With Play: Why We Aren’t Playing and What Designers Can Do

June 30, 2016, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Free and open to the public

Sign up here

Kid’s Workshops:

June 18th, 10:30am – 12:30pm, BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston MA
Family Design Days: during this workshop, children and parents will tour the exhibition and have the opportunity to envision, design, and build their own dream playscape.
$10, $8 for Friends of BSA Space, BSA members, and Design Museum Boston members
Sign up here 

July 16th, 10:00am – 1:00pm, BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston MA
Outdoor Nature Playscape Building: during this workshop, participants will join local artist and craftsman Mitch Ryerson on the Greenway to build unique playscapes using all natural materials. This event is free and open to the public and will take place in two sessions at 10:00 and 11:30am.

August 13th, 10:30am – 12:30pm, BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston MA
During this workshop, children and parents will tour the exhibition with its curators and move right outside to the Harborwalk for group building with Imagination Playground and more!

Curator’s Public Tours: Available upon request. Free and open to the public, groups are welcome.

Exhibition Preview:

Wild Walk, Chip Reay and The Wild Center
Tupper Lake, NY
Courtesy of the Wild Center

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PlayForm7, Playworld Inc
Courtesy of Playworld

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Esplanade Playspace, Halvorson Design Partnership
Boston, MA
Courtesy of Halvorson Design Partnership

Takino Rainbow Nest, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam
Takino, Japan
Courtesy of Interplay Design

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Maggie Daley Park, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Chicago, IL
Courtesy of MVVA

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Ambulance Playground, Super Local
Beit CURE Hospital, Malawi, Africa
Courtesy of Super Local