A New Exhibition Exploring the Best Examples of Playground Design Around the World Premiers in Portland on October 6

Portland (October 3, 2016) – Design Museum Portland, Pacific Northwest College of Arts (PNCA), and Playworld are pleased to announce the opening of Extraordinary Playscapes, an exhibition featuring over 40 pioneering play spaces from around the world, at PNCA on October 6. Curated by Design Museum Foundation, the exhibition explores the latest thinking in playground design while presenting how vital free play is to childhood development, thriving communities, and social equity. From towering treetop playgrounds to hand-knit crochet installations, visitors will discover how architects and designers worldwide are engaging diverse communities to translate play objectives into state-of-the-art and meaningful play environments.

“Our goal is to connect Portland to the free play movement through an exceptional public exhibition about the design of playscapes,” says Sam Aquillano, executive director of Design Museum Foundation and co-curator of the exhibition. “There are so many examples of extraordinary playscapes in the world, and we’re hoping to inspire Portlanders of all ages to get outside and play.”

Among the many sites on display, the exhibition will feature: a project that reimagined a scrapped ambulance as a children’s hospital playground in Malawi, Africa; examples of how Danish design integrates nature and play; and innovative play-centered design happening right here in Portland. As an interactive experience, Extraordinary Playscapes includes playable installations, videos, scale models, and hands-on elements for viewers as they explore the art, history, and science behind the world of play.

“Play is the very backbone of childhood development. It is through a window of play that children experience the world around them and form social, cognitive, creative, spatial, and sensory skills upon which they build the rest of their development into adulthood,” said Michael Laris, vice president, Global Innovation for PlayPower, Playworld’s parent company. “The Extraordinary Playscapes exhibition is incredibly needed, as it highlights the importance of play in general and focuses on how design has the power to change and improve the way we experience the world around us and the relationships we form.”

Extraordinary Playscapes, free and open to the public, is on view from October 6-December 17, 2016 at PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art and Culture. The exhibition will then travel to San Francisco, Calif. and Chicago, Ill.  through 2017.

A press preview and tour of Extraordinary Playscapes will be held for the media on the morning of Thursday October 6 at 10:00am.


Editor’s note: high-resolution photos are available by request.


Extraordinary Playscapes Public Events

Opening Reception

October 6, 2016, Design Museum Portland Member Tour: 4:00 - 5:00pm;

First Thursday Public Reception: 5:00 - 8:00pm


Film Screening: The Land with Special Guests Will Hathaway & Jess Graff

October 20, 2016, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Design Museum and PNCA Members: Free, Not-Yet-Member tickets: $10, Door: $12


Kid’s Workshop: Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds

November 6, 2016, 1:00 - 4:00pm

Free and open to the Public


UNITE: How Portland Does Play

November 17, 2016, 6:30 - 8:30 pm

Design Museum and PNCA Members: Free, Not-Yet-Member tickets: $10


Curator’s Public Tours

Available upon request. Free and open to the public. Groups are welcome.


For full details on public programs visit


About Design Museum Portland   
At Design Museum Portland we believe design can change the world. Done well, it can elevate our quality of life, make businesses more competitive, and protect our environment. Design awareness, education, and expertise are more important now than ever before as design continues to impact communities, organizations, and markets around the world. Design Museum Foundation is redefining what it means to be a museum in the 21st century — we're online, nomadic, and accessible to all through a network of exhibitions, events, and content. Our mission: show the world the positive impact good design can have and create the most accessible museum imaginable. Design is everywhere. So are we.
For more information visit


About Playworld  
Playworld is a division of PlayPower®, Inc. and believes The World Needs Play®. Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. It’s something you are never too young or too old to enjoy. We develop playground environments where creativity is king, belly laughs are welcome, and children make the rules. Playworld’s equipment and surfacing are designed to unleash the transformational power of play so bodies grow stronger, children play safely, and imagination can take flight. For 45 years, Playworld has created innovative, inclusive and meaningful outdoor play experiences for all ages and abilities. Come play with us. For more information visit

About Pacific Northwest College of Art
As Oregon’s premier college of art and design since 1909, Pacific Northwest College of Art has helped shape the region's visual arts landscape for more than a century. PNCA students study with award-winning faculty in small classes. In the last ten years, PNCA has doubled both the student body and full-time faculty, quadrupled its endowment, and added innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. A $15 million capital campaign supported the 2015 move to a new campus on Portland's North Park Blocks and the renovation of its main campus building, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design at 511 NW Broadway.

Media Contact