Robot Benches for The Children’s Museum

A robot for the kids

A few years ago I got the opportunity to do an illustration for a client of mine that was developing an exhibit for The Children’s Museum (TCM) in my hometown. The exhibit was Tic-Tac-Toe against an interactive robotic arm and yes, I got to draw a robot!

museum-hartness-robot

He is there on the wall now and it has been nice to see him every time we visit the museum with our kids. We try to get our pictures with him each visit. He is like an old friend that doesn’t speak or move. I guess he is more like a comatose old friend with an eternal happy smile. He is the one thing I’ve done that my kids actually think is cool. So cool my son told an employees that his dad drew the robot and they took my contact information.

Greenville is lucky to have such a fantastic Children’s Museum. It’s one of the top things to do when visiting the area and we’ve had a family pass for a few years now. It has 3 floors of everything a child would want to learn about. Space, nutrition, recycling, animation, music, farm, science… it has it all. All except enough seating for kids and guardians that need to take a break from everything.

Take a load off

You’d think it was an oversight but it was designed that way to help ensure the parents stay involved with the children’s learning instead of being an observer. But after a few complaints they decided they should probably do something about the lack of resting spots and came up with a great idea. They would get local artists to create special benches that could add visual interest to areas of the museum while also providing a place for visitors to rest.

Thankfully my son had mentioned to the correct someone that I had drawn the robot on the wall of the museum. And they remembered. So they asked me to make a robot bench that could be placed near the exhibit with my robot illustration. Can you guess what I said?

naked-bench

Robobench to the rescue

To participate in the bench project we had to submit a concept drawing of what our work would be. Almost immediately I knew I wanted my entire bench to be a robot. A happy robot you could crawl up into his lap and take a rest. Once it was approved I found out that it might be possible to make 2, so I submitted a design for a girl version.

robobench-jchris-concept

The museum supplied the readymade bench so that everyone had a secure structure to create from. It wasn’t until we got both the naked benches to the woodshop that I realized how much work it was going to be. And the short amount of time I had to get them built and painted. Thankfully I had the help and tools of my Dad, who is a lifelong power tool expert, with a million hours experience building things out of wood. All I had to do was figure out what I needed to do and he helped me figure out how I needed to do it. So we worked on them pretty much everyday until they were finished!

Robobenches Close

fostron-robobench-jchris

LILTRIX-robobench-jchris

Random Access Memories (RAM)

I like to hear from my family and friends when they’ve seen my mural robot on their visit to TCM. It’s cool to think that I might be a little bit of their visit. Now there are 3 pieces of me there and I hope to see more and more photos. Kids smiling and waving from the laps of my robots. Maybe it will become a photo op for every time they visit the museum. Each new picture showing their feet getting closer and closer to the ground as they grow.

I have always remembered seeing unusual things when I was a kid. Giant bikes, cars & cows; all on top of buildings. An old train that was a restaurant. Those things have stuck with me my entire life. My robobenches may not be as out of place as those things. But I think they are as unusual and it’s neat to know that there are others who might always remember resting on the lap of a happy robot.

robobench-museum

I did not do it alone

robobench-beforepaintIt all went pretty well and I think they turned out fantastic! I’ll post information about the process soon. I’m very grateful for all the help my family gave me by allowing me time to work on them. I’m also super thankful to my Dad for his assistance, use of wood shop and his input. The benches totally wouldn’t exist without his help.

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robobench-head

 

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