The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

XOXO: A Journey Through Love and Forgiveness

New Exhibit at Mayborn Museum Complex

10 months ago

Pictured: Photos courtesy of the Mayborn Museum Complex

By Skylla Mumana

In this new exhibit, X’s and O’s don’t just represent kisses and hugs, but a world of wonder and emotion. On Sept. 17, the Mayborn Museum Complex opened their newest specialty exhibit, “XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness”, for the Waco public to enjoy.

XOXO, is a fun, interactive exhibit that teaches visitors of all ages how to process, understand and express their emotions. Through its various activities, XOXO teaches museum-goers, especially families, how to appreciate the power of words and encourages them to explore how communication can impact our loved ones. To many, this exhibit may feel like an outlier within the Mayborn. As a natural science and history museum, an exhibit about love and forgiveness may not seem like it would make the cut. However, Rebecca Nall, assistant director of communication at the Mayborn Museum Complex, believes that XOXO fits right in with the Mayborn.

“We have a lot of families that come to the museum, and I know that what they enjoy about the Mayborn is that there’s always something new to do and see, and that there’s some way that you can learn and grow,” Nall said. “This is just another way to do it.”

This 1,500-2,000 square foot exhibit is on loan from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is a museum that combines innovation and inclusivity to transform how the youth of today are educated in order to spread joy, kindness, creativity and curiosity to learners of all ages. The museum developed and produced this exhibit in 2014 with the Fetzer Institute, an organization that works towards fostering love and forgiveness in the global community.

The exhibit features multiple activity stations that encourages museum-goers to work together to solve various issues, such as its balance seesaw and infinite story puzzle. Other activities in the exhibit focus on conveying different emotions, such as their empathy blocks. The direction boards at each activity not only come with instructions, but with questions that help stimulate conversation and encourage deeper thinking.

All direction boards have quotes from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” an educational children’s television show that was created and hosted by Fred Rogers. The series was developed and produced in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and ran from 1968-2001. Through his various meetings with friends and puppets in his neighborhood, Fred Rogers taught his young viewers about different themes and life topics, such as friendship, kindness, acceptance, sadness, forgiveness, love, etc. Throughout the series and until his death, Rogers helped to teach children all over the world that emotions, both positive and negative, are natural and normal.

For many parents, the thought of having conversations about emotion and communication can be daunting. Nall, a mother herself, understands this well, but notes that taking that first step and creating a safe space to talk about emotion with young children is imperative for their growth.

“As a parent, you’re really trying to help create good grownups,” Nall said.

Kaelyn Parker, a spark guide at the Mayborn, also feels strongly about this. Parker also works closely with young children who come to the Mayborn, and feels that teaching children about their emotions is vital to both their humanity and identity.

“I have a very firm belief that emotions are what makes you human,” Parker said. “Everyone is going to feel emotions as a person, and whenever you’re younger, those emotions, they aren’t quite defined yet. You’re still learning. So I feel like learning how to work through your emotions and how to react in day-to-day life can help benefit them and help them define what it means to not only be themselves, but to be human.”

Mayborn spark guide Hayden Cromwell hopes that when visitors leave the Mayborn knowing more about themselves and about each other.

“In terms of hoping what people will take away from this is that there’s a way to use your emotions and there’s a way to channel them into other works,” Cromwell said.

“XOXO: An Exhibit About Love & Forgiveness” is set to run until Jan. 7, 2024. Tickets to this exhibit can be found online at the Mayborn Museum website.