As we walked through the Congress Street entrance of the Boston Children’s museum, we were greeted by Kevin, a friendly man who was just promoted to Head of Security. Kevin immediately pressured us to figure out his trivia question on the wall, “Which furry sea mammal is the slowest in the ocean?” After about five minutes of struggling to find the answer, the other interns, Brandon, Carly, Lynn and I were greeted by the warmth of Jo-Anne Baxter, the Marketing and PR Director of the Boston Children’s Museum.
We followed her to the main lobby and was welcomed by one of the museums main attractions, a three story climbing structure called the New Balance Climb.
In all directions were ropes and planks where about fifty little boys and girls were climbing and the room was filled with smiles and laughter. Just to the right were a few games that started the beginning of the Green Trail. The Green Trail highlights all six exhibits throughout the museum. Along the Green Trail we found man powered bicycles and levers that power moving signs and shooting balls. Carly and I jumped at the chance to use the bikes that powered the moving sign, and it soon turned into a competition to see who could move it first, which I lost. There are elements of conservation integrated throughout the museum, from the new lobby constructed from recycled materials, green exhibits, the addition of more efficient infrastructure, and gaining the US Building Council’s LEED Gold Certification.
Jo-Anne then led us to the second floor where we got to see a replica of kindergarten class room, a school bus, a crawlers play-pen, and a room filled with bubbles! All the activities at the Children’s Museum is not only fun and interactive but educational due to its foundation of scientists and educators. The replica of the kindergarten class had a girl wearing layers of bulky sweaters and jackets to teach children how to button and zip. There were also Tupperware with plastic sandwiches to help children going into preschool how to prepare their school lunches. The second floor also had an over-arching theme in green education, featuring a low water toilet and the view of the museum’s roof garden.
We moved on upstairs to my favorite part of the tour, a room relating size and scale. One doll house in particular stood out because it included everything from rugs to curtain shades--it looked just like a real house! There was also an art room, where families can come and create pieces together; and the “Big Dig” room, which had objects from the large construction site and pictures of the people working. “Boston Black” is a large exhibit focusing on the diversity of Boston. There was a market, a barbershop, and even a news stand! Through the back door was Japanese house built with imported pieces from Kyoto, Japan. There were shoes everywhere that belonged to the school group before us. Everyone who entered the house had to take their shoes off in order to portray Japanese culture.
Last, but certainly not least, we entered the Native Voices exhibit, which highlights the history, customs and culture of New England tribal families. This exhibit allows Native Americans to share their own stories with the general public, featuring, but limited to the Narragansett, Mashpee Wampanoag, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Wabanaki, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy tribes. The exhibit contrasts the two worlds, the Native American tribes and modern families allowing all visitors who walk through to better understand the importance of preserving traditions. Here, kids were able to dog sled, see a real cranberry bog, and get a sense of the clothing they wear.
After looking around, Jo-Anne explained how the museum played a huge role in bringing people out to this area of the city. There were not many attractions for families and tourists until the development of the Children’s Museum. I think the Children’s Museum is in the lead in terms of innovation in conservation and interactive learning...and where else can you toboggan down a hill, go rock climbing, create your own art, enclose yourself in a huge bubble, and climb a three story tall jungle gym?