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Story 03: Birth of Playspace

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April 1, 1978

Written by Jeri Robinson

My life was now consumed with calling parents to be "experts," trying to locate more pictures of famous people and finding volunteers to work during the week of the exhibit. Suddenly it was rumored that the Boston schools were not going to have an April vacation week. This would cause the museum a great financial setback. I made arrangements with a local Boston high school to have students come and work with visitors in the exhibit as part of their schoolwork. Seventh and eighth grade students from Shady Hill Academy had also volunteered to come. When Boston then decided to close schools in April, the high school volunteers became unavailable. Students who had jobs would be able to work full-time during the vacation; several others would not be able to work for long enough periods of time. The Shady Hill kids, however, were still available.

Several more famous pictures of people trickled in. Through Robie's personal contacts we got Julia Child and Tip O'Neill. Although Channel 2 promised several pictures of present and former Zoomers from the popular TV show "Zoom," they never materialized.

Much to everyone's horror, Robie had scheduled several television and radio appearances to talk about the exhibit. I didn't think we knew enough about the exhibit to get people excited about it, plus it would be installed for such a short time. Jonathan in the public relations office thought too much publicity was going out without his knowledge. He felt caught because some of the shows Robie contacted were venues he was saving for special announcements about some of the other museum projects coming up in the next few months. Jonathan: "If we bombard the media about this exhibit now, several months later no one will be willing to give us air time."

Since Robie had done a TV circuit the year before to promote the book, she already had contacts with the hosts of several local talk shows. I told Jonathan I wanted my involvement kept to a minimum since I had limited TV experience and wasn't all that comfortable talking about "an exhibit" I didn't yet think was an exhibit. I relayed my feelings to Robie who agreed we should stress the "tryout" quality of the exhibit. But she was somewhat disappointed that I didn't want to do TV spots.

Next: April 12, 1978