Discover what it is like to be blind or deaf, at an innovative centre in Holon. By Ann Goldberg
Dialogue in the Darkness
The Children's Museum is really a misnomer for this campus in the heart of Holon. Like so many of Israel's new-style museums, this is neither a museum nor are all its sections exclusively aimed at children.
In this unique complex, there are displays for children of all ages and for adults as well.
Let's start with the pavillion that is really for young children - and even here there are separate paths for two-and-a-half to four years, four to seven years, five to eight and eight to 12 years. The younger children have to be accompanied by adults.
Inside, children (in groups) join a guided story path, according to their age and interact with the characters on the way, playing a role in the story. Using their imagination they can change the plot of the story and its outcome.
In pitch darkness, you are steered by a blind guide through a wood, a boat trip and shopping in a market
There are also activity tents with games, crafts and learning activities. The Thinking-Feeling tent and the Nature-Life tent have hands-on activities, where children learn all about nature, shapes, textures, colours and the world around them.
A recent addition is The Aliens Have Arrived, where eight-to-12-year-olds get to meet the visitors from another planet, using recently developed technologies.
In complete contrast, on the same campus, there is an experience called Dialogue in the Darkness, which is suitable for children over nine and adults (the age limitation is strictly enforced). Each participant is given a locker in which to store watches and mobile phones, so as to ensure no light at all - and also so they can leave bags and anything else that could fall, as once it is dropped, there will be no way to find it. Then, in pitch darkness, which is quite palpable and frightening to begin with, each group is steered by a blind guide through a series of everyday experiences.
Using all your senses except sight, with the help of a stick to move around on the floor in front of you and following your guide's voice you take a walk "through a wood", feel the sea spray on your face and movement under your feet as you sit on a boat and go for a "ride around the coast", go "shopping in the market" and finally sit down and relax in a "café", where you can buy yourself a snack.
Suddenly your other senses - of touch, smell, hearing and even taste - begin to play a much larger, more significant role in your life and your movements.
A similar, but less disconcerting, experience, in another pavillion, entitled Invitation to Silence, helps you learn how to communicate without any hearing or speaking. This time, all your interaction happens through hand movements, body language and sign language. Your deaf guide will show you how to communicate with the world around you through conversations and games conducted without voice or sound.
The Children's Pavillion, as well as the sightless and silence experiences, need to be booked in advance at 00 972 9 3 650 3010.
These three activities are in Peres Park, a beautiful area with lawns for ball games, a boating lake and play areas for children.