Things break; that’s a given. From the Stone Age wheel to the modern computer, all technologies throughout history at some time have needed repairs. When something breaks, what do you do? Broken? Fix it! invites children and adults to learn together to diagnose problems, then roll up your sleeves and get inside the repair process.

Try your hand at a variety of fix-it activities, including figuring out why the car thumps and clangs, getting a bike rolling again, repairing a shoe and fixing a toy dinosaur. Hear from people who repair objects as a career and discover how cultures around the globe approach the process and art of mending.

Tell the tale of something you broke in our “Truth Booth” or hear the confessions of other visitors. Work together to determine solutions to fix an array of everyday objects using tools, materials and advice from experts. 

What You Learn:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving 
  • Cooperation
  • Embracing the broken

All Objects have a Story

A beautiful plate was purchased at a flea market by our Director of Exhibits Erik Schurink and his wife Rita. Not only was it a delightful souvenir found on a trip, Erik’s grandfather added to its story with his memory of a similar plate from France. One day the plate broke, but Erik’s grandfather’s story encouraged them to keep the broken plate. A contemporary Japanese technique utilizing epoxy glue and gold dust was used to not only fix it, but embellish the break of object to celebrate its history. While the plate was on display in Erik’s office, it accidentally fell again! This time the process was repeated, but the gold dust was a slightly different color. The difference in the epoxy used to mend the plate adds to the story and shows the passage of time. 

A ceramic plate that was broken and then re-purposed and put back together.

Erik's grandfather recognized the story depicted on the plate. He told Erik about it, the last they were together. The plate broke and Erik fixed it Kintsugi style, the Japanese way of treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object.

A child and adult testing what is wrong with a broken car in LICM's shop.

Kids identify the working parts of a car and diagnostic sounds.

Broken? Fix It! demonstrates how to break a problem down into its component parts and develop a strategy for understanding and accomplishing each step of a repair.

Broken? Fix it! was an Honorable Mention winner in the 28th Annual AAM Excellence in Exhibition Competition, 2016.

Continue the Fun at Home

See if you can find ways to repair items that are broken in your own home or school. Can you think of creative ways to repair something to be made useful once more?