OPEN CALL –  Create a Play Kit for Family

17th June, 2022

The National Maritime Museum are looking for artist, designers or sculptures to create a play kit for kids and family to use indoor and outdoor.

The ‘play kit’ will be first used at The Wilderness Festival and then at National Maritime Museum (inside and outside the building) during the summer holidays. 

At the National Maritime Museum they take play seriously. Play is the right of every child, helping them to understand their place in the world, develop connections, know the abstract and support healthy physical, social, cognitive and emotional development.

Play is child-centered, freely chosen, and an active process that is without a defined end product. In doing so, play gives children agency, a sense of control and space to develop their own ideas, feelings and relationships. Play is a safe space for fun, uncertainty, risk and challenge. The aim of the play kit is to operate indoors or outdoors, with or without others (including adults) and occurs in spaces and places chosen by the player.

Why is play important?

For the child:

  • It can increase a child’s self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect
  • It supports good physical and mental health
  • It allows children to increase their confidence and develop new skills
  • It promotes imagination and creativity
  • It supports children to develop and understand personal relationships
  • Play is a safe space to try out new ideas and skills, to develop relationships and to build connections with others
  • It provides opportunities to learn about their environment and the wider community.

For the family and wider community:

  • Buildings and facilities for play are seen as a focal point for communities
  • Families and communities are happier and healthier
  • It offers opportunities for social interaction for the wider community and support the development of social cohesion.

Why have a play-centered approach at the Museum?

  • It is established that play has many benefits to the child, the family, and the community.
  • Families need supported to cross the threshold of the Museum. Using the recognised language of play and demonstrating that play is welcomed and encouraged in the museum, helps provide families with the confidence to enjoy museum spaces on their terms. 
  • The pandemic reduced opportunities for play and has had huge impact on the physical and mental health of children. Centering play helps us to support the physical and mental health of families visiting the museum.

What is our approach to play at the Museum?

  • Facilitated and self-led
  • Beyond designated spaces
  • Supported and welcomed by all staff and volunteers
  • Replicated in our language, imagery and attitudes
  • Spaces that invite play rather than attempting to lead play.
  • Part of a wider child-centered approach, one of many approaches to engage with a wide range of families.

The experience for children should be imaginative, abstract (but accessible and easy to understand) and self-led. 

Artist Fee: £2000 (art materials included)

  • 3 days design of kit including consultation meetings with NMM team and finalising design
  • Production of kit and materials
  • Supervising kit on first day of use (Friday 5th August at Wilderness in Oxfordshire)
    Things to consider:
  • The kit needs to be
    • Durable
    • something the public can play with or create something (this cant be a painting workshop)
    • Wipe clean
    • Strong visual connection to the National Maritime Museum (could be through a colour and some figuration of objects
    • Materials can be paper, plastic, metal, textile or any other materials

If this is something you might be interested in, please fill in the form below by 17th June 2022 5pm.


The proposal can be a rough draft as we will be helping you through your idea if selected.

Once TCM has selected the artist we will work collaboratively to make the project come to life.