Exhibitions - Prototyping Play

Cas Holman
Prototyping Play

05.19.24 – 01.19.25

Courtesy Cas Holman.

Exploring the intersection of art making and play, Cas Holman designs innovative toys and tools that inspire participatory imagination. Prototyping Play experiments with the different modes of intuitive and child-directed free play in an art museum environment by extending the body’s movements with uniquely crafted elements and prompts. Released in two phases, Holman’s open-ended playthings and playspaces foster collaboration, inventive thinking, and interactivity. Prototyping Play invites artists of all ages to create, exchange, cooperate, and leave your mark through these new devices.


Tracing Play (launching May 19, 2024): Drawing Tools and Drawing Pads invite collective acts of drawing. The awkwardly shaped, human-sized Drawing Tools are equipped with large-scale crayons  which challenge users to collaborate in figuring out how to use them. The fun is in the creative process. You can make marks using these tools on the Drawing Pads, or Tyvek paper surfaces, where your drawings will inspire future markmakers. Alternatively, you can collaborate with markmakers who visited the exhibition beforehand. 


Critter Party (launching July 2024): For this playscape, Holman has created different elements: the Mama Critter, Baby Critters, and Thingies. The arched Critters invite various types of interaction and opportunities for transformation, while the add-on objects, or Thingies, offer the possibility to adapt each structure with new narratives and identities. Encouraging crawling, sliding, building, storytelling, pretending, and more, the assorted sizes of Critters demonstrate how scale can change our relationship with shapes and spaces. Each critter, as well as the open-ended, reconfigurable Thingies, accommodate various types of play, depending on the desired sensory and social engagements. Here, Holman creates inclusive environments where many different types and ways of playing can coexist together. 

Prototyping Play will activate the Skylight Gallery as the Queens Museum prepares for a children’s museum that encourages intergenerational learning experiences. This playscape will further the Museum’s knowledge of its audiences and facilitates test thinking for future family programming.


Prototyping Play is curated by Lauren Haynes, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs, and Kimaada Le Gendre, Director of Education.


Cas Holman (b.1974) has been designing playthings and playspaces for two decades, encouraging exploration, imagination, and collaboration. Through her company Heroes Will Rise, Cas creates intuitive toys that inspire creative, open-ended play, including the award-winning Rigamajig, a line of playful building kits used in schools and public spaces worldwide. An educator of 13 years and former Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Cas travels the globe to collaborate with thought and industry leaders in early education, curriculum design, public space, and childhood advocacy who share her passion for creating opportunities for child-directed free play. Her philosophy and approach to designing for play was recently featured in the award-winning documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix.


Cas Holman: Prototyping Play is made possible in part by lead support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and Richmond County Savings Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Queens Museum Exhibitions Circle.


The Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, which is owned by the City of New York.


The Museum is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with Mayor Eric Adams, the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and the New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne E. Adams.


Major funding is generously provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, Hearst Foundations, Jerome Foundation, Lambent Foundation, MacMillan Family Foundation, Mellon Foundation, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy, New York Community Trust, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.