posts tagged with 'museum'

final Discovery

The moments from the week will be a little sparse tomorrow because for a combination of reasons I took almost no pictures over the past week. That means we'll miss remembering—among other things—some beautiful sparkling sunshine, six boys on one couch playing Mario Kart, and our first at-home Pokemon tournament. But worst of all, I forgot to bring the camera yesterday when we visited the Discovery Museum and played in the old house for what may well be the last time ever.

See, after 35 years of delighting children of all ages from 1-8, the museum folks feel that they've outgrown the not-huge Victorian house where it all began. It wasn't enough to supplement it with an education space and a science museum for older kids and the best playground space ever—with the original museum feeling cramped and shabby (not to mention far from ADA-compliant) they plan to bring all the indoor exhibits together under one roof. That roof is currently scheduled to open February 10, at which point the house will be closed to the public forever.

Sad news. The museum as it is has a ramshackle charm that's really hard to find these days. All the exhibits are clearly made out of recycled material and things you can find at any hardware store. And the fact that they're sited in what's very clearly still a reasonably modest single-family home drives home the point that you, too, could be as creative if you cared to. What a discovery!

But times change, and Yelp reviewers in 2017 2018 demand flashier design and cleaner carpets (plus universally accessible bathrooms, for preference). As I wrote when I first learned of the proposed changes last year: given the fantastic success of Discovery Woods I'm inclined to give the museum leadership the benefit of the doubt. There will be wonderful things in the new museum when we visit it (in late February at the earliest!). But it won't be the same. We very much enjoyed our visit yesterday, and I really wish we had photos to prove it.

Instead we just have to remember things in our minds. Who even does that?!

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my favorite space

I know I've mentioned it before, but since we spent some time last week playing in the Discovery Woods part of the Discovery Museum, I wanted once again to write about how much I love it.

Zion getting ready to clean up in the block area at Discovery Woods

naturally lovely

We visited on a chilly wet day, with rain and snow falling intermixed, and the main part of the museum was pretty crowded. But when we headed over to the Woods area, we found that we had it all to ourselves. Maybe the closed doors on the house building kept folks away; maybe it was the fact that, when we went inside, the cold air seeping up through the gaps in the floorboards made it just as chilly inside as out. But it was significantly drier! And I don't know how anyone could resist a place like this.

the rear view of the treehouse at Discovery Woods

I guess you could call it a treehouse...

Never mind the fact that we could see our breath, the warm materials and clever design made the space feel wonderfully welcoming. We built block towers, played hide-and-seek, and experimented with the periscopes. Then the boys cuddled under the pile of sleeping bags someone had so kindly left in a corner while I read them a story.

Lijah looking at the array of welcoming features in the treehouse

so much to see and do

In my mental "ideas book" for our current and future home improvement projects, this space is right there on the cover. We're a little sad to hear that the management will soon be closing the original, iconic victorian house that currently holds the "Children's" part of the museum, and building a new structure to house the same sorts of exhibits; but given how perfect a job they did on Discovery Woods I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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latest discoveries

Yesterday the boys and I spent an afternoon at the Discovery Museum in Acton. It wasn't only that we needed more chicken supplies from the feed store down the street; I really want to expand their brains with the power of well-designed play!

Lijah and Harvey working in the life-sized play kitchen

play work

Last time I went was just with the two younger boys, who could spend all day in the "Children's" part of the museum. Harvey has other interests, and with him leading the charge we soon headed over to the other building for some Science Discovery. Happily, even Lijah likes science too: he was entranced by the heat camera, and watched his own rainbow form on the screen with delight.

Lijah looking at himself in the heat camera screen

"movie? movie?"

While I couldn't interest the older boys in a truly scientific investigation of what the camera revealed—like the fact that Harvey's hair is vastly more insulative than Zion's—they were amused to notice that their skin is in fact hot all over, and their clothes keep the heat in.

Harvey on the heat camera screen lifting his shirt to show his red belly

hot belly

There were also opportunities for personal growth. Harvey was brave enough to approach the woman running the pendulum-table spirograph to ask for a turn (and he wanted to make one as a present for Mama!). Zion got lost a whole level away from us and didn't scream or cry. And Lijah overcame a new-found fear of humidifier steam ("no smoke! no smoke!") to be able to spend a good half-hour in a room with a seven-foot-high water vapor tornado. Good times all around!

Plus, we picked up the chicken feed on the way home.

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