ImaginOn Welcomes Tinkertoy Build Your Imagination Exhibit

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Tinkertoy: Build Your Imagination exhibit runs May 20 through Sept. 10 at ImaginOn in uptown Charlotte.

Classic toys have there place, and Tinkertoys are no exception. The simple wooden building sets have sparked imaginations in the youngest of engineers for decades. Beginning May 20, a new exhibit Tinkertoy: Build Your Imagination encourages kids to come design, build and work together to make Tinkertoy structures. In addition, the exhibit geared to ages 3-10, gives visitors the opportunity to experiment with renewable energy and water filtration as well as a chance to build their own inventions.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

What you can expect:

  • The Welcome Gallery: The Welcome Gallery celebrates the 95th anniversary of Tinkertoy through a retrospective of the toy’s history, and highlights GE technologies that improve communities around the globe every day.
  • Invent. Children are encouraged to think about where ideas come from, and to explore the emerging field of biomimicry – nature’s influence on design. Visitors can match real inventions with their natural inspiration and create a design of their own.
  • Collaborate. Dual-sided panels allow visitors to work independently or with a partner to create Tinkertoy designs.
  • Energize. Children can explore GE’s commitment to renewable energy as they use a kid-powered fan to test their own wind-powered Tinkertoy creations.
  • Change. A Rube Goldberg-like contraption illustrates the power of creative thinking and how simple mechanisms work. The activity lets children select and position words to build silly – but thought-provoking! – sentences that serve as the springboard for innovation.
  • Process/Connect. Tinkertoy-inspired equipment lets children explore the concept of filtration, while a companion activity invites them to build ball tracks that illustrate how GE technologies help address the challenge of providing clean water. Finding the correct path through a graphic maze answers children’s curiosity about “Where does the water go?”
  • Develop. Visitors will enjoy filling a life-size human form with Tinkertoy hubs, providing a great photo opportunity and revealing the elements of a healthy lifestyle – and emptying the piece is fun, too! A special rotating Tinkertoy hub array inspires children to consider the impact of their personal choices, highlighting one of our most important responsibilities: taking care of ourselves so that we can do anything!
  • Create – This open play area reserved for children age 3 and older features a spectacular assortment of TINKERTOY pieces – the perfect place to build their imagination. Pictures of remarkable Tinkertoy creations and special tips provide guidance and inspiration.
  • The Tinker Tank. A walk-in size replica of a Tinkertoy canister is the starting point for the exhibit’s challenging scavenger hunt, a must for those with an eye for detail and a nose for knowledge! The Tinker Tank contains a variety of educational materials that attest to the impact of unconventional ideas on some of the world’s greatest – and strangest – inventions, and serve as a reminder that “If at first you don’t succeed…”

Admission to the exhibit is free. The exhibit is open at ImaginOn (300 E. 7thStreet, Charlotte) during building hours: Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday – Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. (ImaginOn is closed on Sundays from Memorial Day to Labor Day for summer hours.) For more information about the exhibit, call 704-416-4600 or visit