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Story 04: Where Did the Ideas Come From?

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Making Exhibits at the Children’s Museum

Written by Janet Kamien

We lived our childhood phase in Jamaica Plain, a working class part of the city, although the museum’s immediate neighborhood between the Pond and Centre Streets was full of middle class homes. We’d been there for many years, housed in a small cluster of buildings that encircled a parking lot. The original museum was located at Pine Bank on a peninsula in Jamaica Pond, but now the museum functioned in two large buildings, former mansions at the suburban edge of Boston, and a small cottage purchased in the mid ’30s when the auditorium was built that became the Visitor Center. In the 1970s, the main museum building contained collections, administrative offices, meeting rooms, and the museum’s Resource Center of library, educational materials, loan kits and Recycle shop. The 1930s auditorium next door had been redone to house the offices and exhibits of the Visitor Center. Design and Production staff worked in another converted house, where we also stored exhibit odds and ends and did an annual haunted house fundraiser. Finally, Ted Faldasz, our groundskeeper/security officer/building manager lived with his family in yet another adjacent house.

Mike continued pursuing potential sites that were more centrally located. Among several options explored, they found only one we could afford, downtown, just across the Fort Point Channel in South Boston, and even then only by collaborating with the Museum of Transportation. Staff who made the trek to see the building arrived enthusiastically and left stunned. It was a dump. A dump in a part of town where you could buy a shot and a beer at 7 a.m., but be hard pressed to find a cup of coffee. And it was into this huge, old brick warehouse we were not only going to have to move our lives in a few years, but also magically fill with double the exhibits. Our adolescence was apparently going to be spent shipped off to military school...

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