Story 03: Birth of Playspace

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April 12, 1978

Written by Jeri Robinson

I did, however, agree to do one, "The Tom Larson Show," on Wednesday, April 12, at 10 a.m. We went armed with mobiles, pictures of famous people, pictures from the walking sequence and the cutouts. We spent fifteen minutes talking about why we felt it was important for parents to know about the first three years of life. We talked about our hopes for visitor reaction to and experiences in the exhibit.

That afternoon when we returned there was finally a response from Delacorte. They had sent a check for $250. According to Jonathan "this will barely cover the cost of the phone bill and stamps we used in corresponding with them." At this point nobody seemed to care. The exhibit pieces were finished and would be installed the next day. Robie's Boston University friend Debbie would help the graphics department laminate pictures while Robie and I continued to gather supplies and be around if needed.

Everything was finally there. Robie had gathered a sampling of soft toys, stuffed animals, blankets, etc., that could be used as an impromptu display of comforters (security blankets) and she brought in a giant teddy bear that had been donated.

When it was time to set up the exhibit, we hit some snags. Putting the signs that gave directions about how to interact with the things in the crib was impossible because the signs themselves were too large to be placed in the crib once the pieces themselves had been installed. I suggested they be grouped together and attached to the wall with the hope that parents would read the information to their kids. The height at which the walking sequence should be installed presented another problem. After trying several heights, two and a half feet was agreed upon because we figured that older children on their knees could read it and act out the stages comfortably while younger children could still view it.

As a last minute addition, several stories written by children in my roommate's class were Xeroxed and mounted and used in the participatory section "Stories and Pictures of You Before You Were Three."

By Friday afternoon everything was in place and ready for Saturday's opening. Andy's comment: "Well, whether it works or not, it sure looks good." Mike and Elaine came by to check out the set up and offer some suggestions. Elaine thought there might be some trouble with the walking sequence. If they noticed it at all, visitors would probably just read the signage instead of trying the interactive out. She suggested we watch it over the weekend and make any adjustments on Monday. Mike didn't offer any suggestions, just said he'd be interested in hearing about our experiences as he was off on vacation and would unfortunately not return until the following Monday. Neither Mike nor Janet would see the exhibit in the "tryout" phase. I thought this would be a great loss since I would have liked to have heard their firsthand comments and criticism. Everything was in place, yet when I left on Friday night, I still didn't know what to expect. I had decided that it would be best to observe awhile to get a feel for how people were reacting and then suggest changes as necessary.

Next: The Exhibit Opens