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Story 03: Birth of Playspace

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October 1977

Written by Jeri Robinson

In early fall we got together to plan our Before You Were Three Day or maybe a whole weekend. Robie suggested it might be better if someone from the museum contacted Ellen Teguis, her contact at Delacorte, about money. I agreed to call her later in the week.

As the museum began to organize its fundraising tasks for the new building, the development office organized a taskforce for each program area. Taskforces were each made up of several people who had previously given money to The Children's Museum, had an interest in a particular area, or knew others who might. In general the taskforces didn't work too well. There were more than twelve different ones and attendance at the meetings was poor. Nevertheless, an early childhood taskforce emerged. As part of this taskforce (actually at this point, I was the entire early childhood staff), I attended weekly meetings at the Wharf to meet with prospective funders and tell them about our plans for expanding the early childhood services at the museum. On two occasions I met with Elaine Heumann Gurian, Mike Spock, Jim Zien, and a prospective donor and we were able to raise some funds.

One of these meetings turned out to be with Robie and her husband Bill. They had been annual givers to the museum but were also involved with a family foundation that had an interest in early childhood. Once we all realized that Robie was the same person with whom I was working on a possible exhibit collaboration, Bill made it clear that their decision to contribute to the museum would have nothing to do with Robie's work for the museum. Less than a week later the museum received a check from their foundation for the early childhood program.

Next: December 1977