Story 03: Birth of Playspace

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February 1978

Written by Jeri Robinson

Days turned into weeks, and still no real decisions were made. In the middle of all this one of the museum's major exhibit designers died, and the February blizzards hit, putting us even more off schedule. Other decisions about the Wharf were being made and Before You Were Three hung in limbo.

Decisions about the exhibits to be included at the Wharf were being finalized. Before You Were Three had been arbitrarily approved as an exhibit to be included in the first phase of the Me Bay, a cluster of exhibits that dealt with life issues. Other exhibits slated to be part of that bay were What If You Couldn't?, an exhibit on special needs, and a Pre-School Special Education play space (which had been funded as a demonstration project, but was yet to be developed). The rationale behind this selection of exhibits was Before You Were Three would give the visitor some ideas about what happens in the early years of life, and visitors would also be able to observe young children (normal and handicapped) at play in the play space. What If You Couldn't? would serve as an introduction to disabilities, show how children with disabilities cope with everyday experiences and allow visitor to become more familiar with some of the devices that have been designed to help children with disabilities. These exhibits would serve as an introduction to some of these issues only to be enhanced later by new exhibits on growth and development.

After looking at how the other exhibit bays were taking form, Mike and Elaine began to wonder if this was the best direction to take. Time and money were major factors. The three exhibits slated for the Me bay were far from adequate; there were other exhibits already developed on size, weight, etc. Mike thought that they needed to be incorporated somehow into the overall picture. Although the early childhood exhibit expansion had been developed as a single enlarged space to encompass several different activity areas, Mike and Elaine started dispersing them into several different areas in the museum.

Next: March 1, 1978