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Story 03: Birth of Playspace

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March 28, 1978

Written by Jeri Robinson

Our next meeting with D&P went without any problems. Robie and I had collected a series of busy boxes, cradle gyms and toys to give them some idea of what we wanted. Based on time and safety issues, John chose to build a creative things baby activator and a set of wooden beads at four-to-one scale. He thought building a busy box would be both costly and time consuming and that there were probably some things already built that could be adapted. A lock box that had previously been used in the old Grownups & Kids exhibit and a spinner dial from the old Changes exhibit could be used to create a busy box illusion. The lock box would be painted a bright nursery color while the seasons of trees on the spinner dial be changed to pictures of babies.

Several times the question of a mobile had come up. John did not want to include a mobile because of the danger of someone pulling it down on himself or another visitor, plus the fact that one good bat could tangle it forever. But Robie and I wanted to experiment and see what would happen. Plus there was a group of students at the Shady Hill School eager to be involved with the project. Andy and John were skeptical. Andy felt uneasy about the quality of the finished product. Would it be up to "museum" standards or look like a kid-made mobile? Robie assured him it could be made to any criteria he set, plus the project would be done under the supervision of the school's art instructor to ensure the best possible outcome. She finally agreed that he could have the final right to refuse it if it was not up to snuff. I thought that if the kids went to all that trouble to make it, I would want to use it in some way in the exhibit, perhaps as a model of a mobile that could be reproduced at home on a slightly smaller scale. (Mobile-making was one of the activities I had planned for the week.)

Robie and I had talked about including several other components such as a slide show using existing pictures from the book to teach visitors about sharing feelings or independence. We brainstormed the idea of a "No" Show, but thought it would be too difficult to develop. A friend of Robie's, who was in a media program at Boston University, volunteered to work on a documentary or perhaps develop a slide show concept.

It now seemed that very little of the book's theme had been incorporated into the exhibit. We had the crib for exploring, but nothing for feelings, talking or walking. Robie wanted to incorporate text about walking by adapt part of the book's text on the stages of walking into ten panels that would suggest activities and offer some background. I didn't really agree with using still more text, but since there didn't seem to be any other inexpensive solution, I agreed.

Next: April 1, 1978