Story 07: Managing the Organization

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Museum Precedent

Written by Elaine Heumann Gurian

In the 1970s, the museum was considered "sweet if inconsequential" by the Boston cultural elite and not to be taken too seriously by "prestigious" museums in the area. We found complimentary institutional siblings elsewhere: the staffs of the Exploratorium® in San Francisco and the Barnsdall Junior Art Center in Los Angeles. Three institutions, using different subject matter, were engaging in similar experiments at the same time.

The broad professional museum community was equally divided about the work we were doing. Their opinions ranged from passionate detractors to equally ardent supporters. They considered us to be some combination of precedent setting, beyond the pale, irrelevant, and inspiring. Many thought of us as a "swell" indoor playground and not a museum at all.

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