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From An Idea to an Exhibit: The Before You Were Three Project

Written by Jeri Robinson

This article was adapted from a paper written by Jeri Robinson in May 1978 for a class entitled Education 729, part of a graduate program in leadership at Wheelock College. The assignment was to keep a diary of a situation in which she was involved that required leadership skills. How do you become a leader in a new group? How do you analyze your own leadership style and then apply it in the most effective way to achieve your goals? In real time, this paper reveals the day-to-day struggles of a young woman, passionate about early childhood programming, as she learns to mesh with a group of experienced, opinionated and outspoken museum professionals, some of whom didn't take very young museum audiences very seriously.

—Ed.


From an Idea to an Exhibit:

The Before You Were Three Project

Jeri Robinson

Education 729

May 17, 1978

Introduction

The Children's Museum was founded in 1913 by a group of Boston schoolteachers who were "committed to the notion that museums have an important role to play in the education of elementary school aged children." In its early years, the museum was noted for exhibits and programs in the natural sciences and cultures and, even in the early days, its founders were firm believers in "hands-on" experiences for children.

Over the years, many changes in programs occurred. The museum is now preparing for the move to its new home on Museum Wharf. Many of the programs and exhibits developed at the museum will be clustered under three headings: Me, Manmade World, and Meeting Ground.

Throughout the years the staff developers have been encouraged to take an active role in shaping the museum's direction through the suggestion of new exhibit areas and implementation of new programs.

As the developer of programs for young audiences, I became concerned about the role of early childhood education within the museum's Visitor Center program. In this article, I will attempt to share with you my experience of how an idea actually turned into an exhibit.

Next: History of the "Before You Were Three" Project April 1977