Founded in 1913 by a group of teachers in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, Boston Children’s Museum began a “hands-on” tradition long before that phrase became commonplace.
As early as 1913, it meant engaging youth in identifying and marking nature walks, preparing specimens, making clay and wax models for exhibits, and even attempting a working model of the metropolitan water system. The 1920’s and 1930’s began an era of Museum-sponsored clubs that gave children the opportunity to explore the unfamiliar with naturalist hikes and bus trips.
In the 1960’s, Michael Spock (museum director 1962-85) led the institution in revolutionizing the traditional museum experience, getting objects out of cases and into children’s hands in exhibit areas where children could interact, experiment, and follow their own curiosity. Hands-on learning is now a part of American education and we are proud to have had a “hand” in it from the beginning.
Today, after 100 years, Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. As an early museum experience for children, our environment is informal, but our purpose is serious. We want children to grow up feeling secure and self-confident with respect for others and the natural world. We encourage imagination, curiosity, questioning, and realism. We provide opportunities for new insights, involvement with the world and understanding of human differences with world-class exhibits and programs.
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