Story 09: Beyond Museum Walls

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Written by Dorothy Merrill

While Mike Spock was creating the new concept of an interactive museum for children and their families and eventually moving the museum to a much larger facility, substantial resources supported school and community programs. The rationale was based on a strong belief that getting engaging materials and activities into the hands of children went beyond the museum visit. It was not enough to have the "museum experience" once in third grade or a couple of times a year. While the Visitor Center was the visible, innovative core of the museum, its Resource Center work was equally valued and ongoing in perhaps a less visible way.

The work of the Resource Center proved to be useful to fund the many subject matter specialists or developers who could pay for part of their salaries by developing kits, writing books or teaching university courses. The museum could not have kept so many talented staff without these opportunities. Every major exhibition topic: Japanese Culture, Physical Science, Early Childhood, Native American Culture was developed in depth. The Visitor Center also produced exhibition kits and books related to several special exhibitions and ran programs for special needs children and teens at risk.

More than 100 books and publications, countless community programs, years of traveling exhibitions, dozens of kits and several commercially published curriculum series were among the results of this very productive period. These materials enabled the museum to reach children far beyond its walls, into the neighborhoods of Boston. This model eventually spread throughout the country to other museums, schools and community centers.

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