Tuesday, December 21, 2010


On Monday, December 20 a Brown Bag presentation was held in the Rice Workshop for any museum staff who could attend. The propose of the Brown Bag was to provide an overview and update on Michael's Museum. The meeting was attended by approximately 25 people.

Jenny Schrider's model of the Michael's Museum exhibit, 11 x 17 sketches, a bowl of m&m's with a tiny train running on a track around the bowl, and a tray with little "take away" mementos for attendees sat on a table in the center of the room.

Team members presented the overview and update using a Power Point presentation put together by Katie. There was a question and answer period and the meeting ended with attendees sharing their experience with collecting as a child and/or currently.

Friday, December 17, 2010

UPDATE 12/17/10: Team Meeting

The fifty page Concept Design Paper is now complete.

At this meeting we reviewed some of the items in that document. We talked about some exhibit specifics like populating the high shelves, the look and purpose of the Curator's Desk, props for visitors to use as they experience the "curating" experience, and changing (monthly? quarterly?) exhibits from "Michael's Private Collection" and possibly a Visitor Adult and/or Child Collections." Jenny presented a 3D model of what the space will look like based on the sketches. Finally we discussed the CCM budget allocation for space preparation, additional exhibit piece fabrication, collections protection, and visitor disposable manulipatives.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UPDATE 12/10/10: A Visit to Michael's Museum

Today Jenny, Mark, and I met at the off site storage facility, to look through some of the cabinets from previous Chicago Children's Museum exhibits to see which, if any, could be "repurposed" for Michael's Museum. Then we visited "2050" where Michael's Museum is gently resting until the reinstallation in its own gallery on Navy Pier during May 2011. After the storage facility visit and over lunch at Manny's on Roosevelt Street, Jenny & I talked about each of the +100 collections and any special cabinet needs. The day was quite productive.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UPDATE 12/07/10: Management, Programming, Gift Shop

Busy day for Michael's Museum at The Chicago Children's Museum today.

This morning Natalie and Louise presented the Michael’s Museum executive summary to the Management Committee.  Everyone continues to be very enthusiastic about the project.  An interesting note is that as management gets more familiar with the project their questions get more specific and and involved. Everyone liked the tag line – A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures, so we will go with that. Amy commented that per the Public Space team work, Michael’s Museum reflects the “mind body provocation” tactic:  the visitor encounters the unexpected within Public spaces; stimulates inquiry and kindles wonder, fuels the imagination, and challenges mind and body experiences”

Today the Programming Sub-Team (Katie, Natalie, and Michael) met to talk about what kinds of activities and hands on experiences visitors to Michael's Museum would have. We reviewed the "plan" of the space and looked at how activities would be interspersed throughout the exhibit. We talked about the function of the "Curator's Desk" and how visitors could "pretend to be in charge" of Michael's Museum via various activities at that point. We discussed the importance of having pieces of the collection at all heights on the wall so little, bigger, and adult visitors could comfortably enjoy investigating the collections. We also talked about having "safe stools" for kids to stand on to get a closer look at things in the exhibit.

Michael and Jasime, manager of the Gift Shop, met to discuss a Michael's Museum presence in the Gift Shop. Besides specific suggestions about the type of items the shop could sell that would be part of the "Tiny Treasure" experience, we discussed the buyers involvement from the third party that runs the gift shop for The Chicago Children's Museum. We also talked about the mechanics of displaying and merchandising to make the MM Corner visible and inviting. Finally we discussed the possibilities of creating product on our own that reflects Michael's Museum.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tag Line

Looks like Michael's Museum has a "tag line." It is not absolutely final but looks good:

A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures

Also watch for a new LOGO. The original one will be prominently featured on the Curator's Desk and will be included in the "History of Michael's Museum." But with the new look and feel of the space, to accommodate black and white print versions, to be more readable, and to be compatible with other Chicago Children's Museum logos, change is afoot! 

With the work of the Michael's Museum Core Team and Extended Team, Michael's Museum will not only be as amusing, amazing and astounding as the old version ...  IT WILL BE BETTER!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Meeting Update: November 23, 2010

This was the final Concept Design meeting. The Concept Design document will be completed and ready for distribution first week of December. Sub group meetings begin after Thanksgiving and include "Programming" and "Schematic" and "Gift Shop."

Lots of time was spent visiting with Jenny's updated design sketches. We are sure she spent loads of time processing feedback from the team, finalizing her thoughts, drawing, and coloring ... but after seeing the design sketches ... she has made it seem so easy and so obvious. Everyone was pleased and excited. In fact I was jumping up and down like a little boy.

Remembering that in this phase of planning, all things are still changeable, here are beginning looks at Michael's Museum at The Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meeting Update: November 16, 2010

This was the next to last meeting for "Concept Design" and before Thanksgiving. The majority of the meeting was spent looking at and talking about Jenny's colorful elevation drawings and sketches with sample furniture in place.

After what looked like much thought about design possibilities, Jenny really captured what the inside of MM@CCM might look like but wanted suggestions for the entrance/outside which she considered a difficult element of the design that was not quite right, in mid-stream, but having promise. 

It is always EASY to suggest corrections once the ROUGH DRAFT has been written by someone else. So it was with Jenny's presentation. Hopefully the group's feedback has helped Jenny as she returns to the drawing board to pull out more wonderful ideas from her creative supply!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


A few quotes from Michael that came up during previous MM@CCM Team Meetings:

"Sometimes I like to pretend that I am real."

"I never meant for this to happen."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marketing and Development Meeting: November 9, 2010

After the Team Meeting (1:30-3:30) a meeting with the Marketing Representative (Jennifer J) and Development Representative (Amy C) took place (3:30-4:30) with Michael and Louise while Michelle took minutes.

The purpose of the meeting was two fold. First Jennifer and Amy shared more about the scope of their departments and how those departments would be interacting with and supporting Michael's Museum. Second, Michael wanted to offer his assistance in whatever way was needed to support their departments.

Once again a "Transition" discussion took place. MM has been a one man show for the last 30 years and now is very pleased to be part of a larger institution in the name of the world renowned Chicago Children's Museum.

In this collaborative relationship, where many people are involved to make sure that MM@CCM is successful, what must be done to help Michael's Museum make the transition into the culture of The Chicago Children's Museum while at the same time keeping its unique identity and integrity?

The progress so far has been amazing, the spirit of the adventure high, and the optimism non-stop. So many times, I have heard people comment, "Can't wait!" Neither can I but meanwhile, I have been enjoying and growing through the process.

Meeting Update: November 9, 2010

The main activity of this meeting was Jenny Schrider's sharing of and receiving feedback from the group on her initial "bubble plans" for the MM@CCM exhibit space.

She certainly did her homework and research in finding pictures and images that had a feel similar to the original MM when it was in my home and when CCM first saw and fell in love with it in 2007. She also looked at "Wonder Rooms" and "Curiosity Cabinets" of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the Thorn Rooms at the Art Institute for motivations.

The concept and documentation of the history and transition of MM to CCM begins to become an additional collection for MM@CCM. The group felt it was important for visitors to realize that it is "one person's collection and world view" that is being shared with a wider audience.

Her design incorporated putting the entrance in a new place, creating a comfortable seating area with a rug, love seat, chairs and coffee table. Her vision of "The Curator's Desk" was a place for visitor activities as well as a place for Michael to work when he is in the museum. Options besides wall cabinets for displaying collections was discussed.

Having items floor to ceiling and possibly on the ceiling was discussed. "Peep Throughs" from the Great Hall perhaps looking through a collection cabinet and into MM would allow for surprise.

Jenny has a great feel for the "essence" of Michael's Museum and how to bring that to The Children's Museum in a manner that is fitting to both the collection and CCM and in the transition from "then to now," making it even better than ever imagined.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This BLOG is Especially for You!

A little late for a Halloween type threat but I KNOW YOU ARE OUT THERE. I know that you are viewing my BLOG because the number counter keeps going up. BUT, I don't know who you are and that is making me nuts. PLEASE, PLEASE comment. It's easy.

Under the entry is the word "comment." Click it, and leave your comment. You can "Sign in" from the list offered or just sign in as "Anonymous." You do not have to leave your full name if you choose not to. Just leave your initials so I know it is you. Would love to hear from you.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Meeting Update: November 2, 2010

We are now in the final three weeks of the concept development for MM@CCM and Jenny, Exhibit Designer has joined the Team Meetings. She will be developing the "How will it look? and How will it work?" part of MM. After talking about the little trinkets we brought in to share, we spent the meeting discussing the work thus far in relation to Jenny's beginning work on the physical design. Our meetings are always spent in mini-chocolate chip cookies, mini-oatmeal raisin cookies, M&M's and this week the addition of mini-Snicker's and Truffles. We never go hungry!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meeting Update: October 26, 2010

At the beginning of our meetings, each member of the team brings in a "small item" to share with the group. Adult SHOW AND TELL. I wish you could see the faces of my fellow team mates as they tell about their little object, how they got it, what it means to them. Truly joy and magic. 

During the focus of this meeting, Katie passed a basket of small cards each of which contained a picture of a person or group of people: all ages, all ethnicities, all types. Team members studied the pictures they selected and then we took turns "telling the story" of what these "museum visitors" did while they were visiting Michael's Museum. The stories were varied, beautiful, engaging.

About mid way through the stories I had tears running down my face as I realized the potential impact could have on all of these people. I never intended for this to happen. I never intended for MM@CCM to happen. It was just something I enjoyed doing: COLLECTING. 

Now here we are, the MM@CCM Team, as we build the "Magical, Joyful, Amazing, Amusing, Astounding" experience that will be available to thousands of children and adults who visit CCM.

I am moved beyond words. That's why the tears came.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meeting Update: October 21, 2010

Our two hour meeting flew! We shared our small trinkets at the beginning of the meeting, went over the visitor surveys gathered by Ben, and did a "Brainstorming Web" describing what the "Entrance Experience" might be like. For seven minutes we wrote one word ideas (or maybe just a few words) on slips of paper. Next we generated some general categories, sorted our paper slips by category, and Katie wrote them all down on the dry erase board. Finally we each received six or seven stickers to note the items that we liked most strongly. An interesting and prolific list of ideas surfaced through the process. The team is almost at the half way mark of "Concept Development."

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Michael's Museum becomes more and more a reality with each MM@CCM Team Meeting. The planing phase will continue through January 2011. We are about to create a presence on:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meeting Update: October 12, 2010

Today we had a lunch meeting. The "Concept Paper" work was reviewed and the Big Idea was amended to say: "The universal allure of small things inspires curiosity, imagination, storytelling, and collecting." The Children's goal was revised to read: "To encourage  and support children as they investigate, wonder, create, and collect." The Caregiver's goals was revised to read: "To evoke reflection, exploration, and memory sharing (and inspire them to support children's interests in collecting." The Environmental goal remained the same: "To create an intimate, magnificent world that appeals to all people of ages."

The rest of the meeting was spent in brainstorming general strategies to achieve these goals. Visitors will be surveyed to get a beginning idea of what and why their children (and the adults as well) collect. Should be interesting to hear what is said. Another very productive meeting.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pulgas Vestidas

When I was in high school, every year a trip to Mexico was offered by the Spanish Club. Miss Erickson (RIP,) my Spanish teacher and the trip chaperone, would pass out the multi-paged mimeographed itinerary for the trip. I can still see and smell the 8.5x11 multi-colored, rough grained paper on which it was printed. Every year I would take home a copy and memorize it. My family was not able to afford me the experience but I dreamed anyway.

One year Miss Erickson brought to class some souvenirs she purchased in Mexico on the previous year's trip. One item in particular caught my attention and my fancy. In a ⅛ x ¼ inch handmade paper box were glued two dressed fleas. One was dressed like a groom and the other like a bride. You could barely tell what was in the box without a magnifying glass. I was astounded. I was amazed. I wanted a dressed flea of my very own.

Flash forward some thirty years. Either for my "running away from home - late" or my "midlife crisis - early" I had quit teaching, was waiting tables at Jerome's Restaurant at Clark and Arlington in Chicago, and decided to take off on my dream trip to Mexico. 

I took Amtrack to Fort Worth Texas where I spent a week with my sister and her family. I proceeded to San Miguel de Allende for a stay which lasted for a month and a half and then took the bus on to Mexico City where I spent another three weeks. Besides being lonely, by the end of my time in Mexico I had just enough money to fly home so my adventure ended after two months.

While in Mexico City, eating amazing food and taking in all the cultural sites I could, I was on a quest to find "Pulgas Vestidas." At every little souvenir shop I saw I asked, "¿Se vende aquĆ­ pulgas vestidas?" "Do you sell dressed fleas here?" And at every little shop I received the same quizzical look and the reply, "Never heard of such a thing." Remember this is 30 years after Miss Erickson had purchased hers.

One day, well into my stay in Mexico City, I was walking around on a Sunday afternoon when I passed a gift shop that was closed but had interesting items on display in the window. The shop was dark, the windows dirty, the displays dusty. I was about to turn and continue my walk when I noticed an almost empty shoe box in the corner of the window. The box had seen better days and at the back of it was a stained, curled sign that said "PULGAS VESTIDAS - 50 Pesos." Oh my God (or OMG as the tech savvy say now-a-days) I had found my dressed fleas. There were only two tiny boxes in the bottom of this shoe box and they were boy friend and girl friend not bride and groom but EURECA, success! 

I probably laid awake all night waiting for the Monday morning opening of the shop that housed my treasure. I was waiting in front when the owner unlocked the door, spent my 100 Pesos, and gingerly carried the bag containing my prize back to my hotel room. Some stories end happily. 

Perhaps the moral of this story is: Never give up. Or perhaps: If you work hard enough and wait long enough, your dream will come true. Both my Dream Trip to Mexico and my finding Pulgas Vestadas finally had happened and continue to hold an important place in my reminiscences. 

Come visit my Pulgas Vestidas when Michael's Museum opens at The Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. The projected opening date is May 13th, 2011. See you there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Meeting Update: October 5, 2010

To start each meeting, each person brings in a small item to share with the group. I love it, "Adult Show and Tell." It is wonderful to see how excited everyone is to share these items. 

At this meeting we worked on establishing the BIG IDEA for this museum of small things. For homework, everyone thought about and wrote down two or three ideas that would paint a picture of what Michael's Museum is all about.

At the meeting we wrote our ideas on poster paper and placed them around the room. After studying everyone's attempt at defining the big idea of Michael's Museum, people had four stickers with which to vote on the ideas they liked best.

We then discussed the ideas, those that received the most votes first and then all of the ideas. We compared and contrasted ideas and underlined important descriptors.

Finally we came up with the following DRAFT big idea (still subject to change) and some goals.

The allure of small things inspires curiosity, imagination, collecting, and storytelling

To inspire children to explore, wonder, and collect

To evoke reflection, exploration, and memory-sharing

To create an intimate, magnificent world that appeals to all ages

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Big Idea

What's the big idea? That is what our next MM Team meeting will be looking at.

"Good exhibits focus on a limited topic, communicate their messages, and have personal meaning for the audience. A Big Idea is a sentence - a statement - of what the exhibit is about. It says what is going on using a subject, an action, and a consequence. It is not vague or confusing …. When the majority of visitors can easily, cheerfully and unhesitatingly answer the question, 'What is this exhibit about?.' there is good evidence for comprehension and significance." (Taken from "What's the BIG idea?" by Beverly Serrell.

Here are three BIG IDEAS that I will be sharing on Tuesday with the MM Team and I look forward to seeing the ideas they came up with for this homework assignment.

1) Michael's Museum is a look at the joy and magic of life, asking you to visit the value of "small objects" in your family's world of experience and learning.

2) Michael's Museum: Experience & Play, Explore and Learn, Enjoy and Share, Enter a small world of joy and magic.

3) Michael's Museum provides a backdrop for intergenerational family interaction, sharing, learning, and play through exploring the beauty, joy, and magic of "small objects."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Extended Team Meeting - 09/29/10

Amazing number of people involved with making sure that MM @ CCM is a great success: Exhibit Developer, Project Manager, Education/Community Developer, Designer, Exhibits & Design VP, Visitor Advocate, Lead Preparator, Individual Giving VP, Individual GIving Manager, Marketing VP, Preparator VP, President/CEO CCM, and yours truly the creator/ curator/ collection expert. Probably there are more people who will join the team when needed and of course there are all of the people who help, on a day to day basis, make the museum to be a wonderful place for children.

We had been talking about MM@CCM opening sometime in April but now it looks like it will be closer to May (and may change again.) Better to have enough time to go through the architectural type phases of 1) Concept Design, 2) Schematic Design, 3) Design Development, and 4) Fabrication and Installation. Other things being worked out parallel to these include development (which I have learned means fund raising,) public relations, marketing, publicity, material preparation, etc.

At todays meeting each person brought and/or talked about a small object that is/was important in their life. We will start off each meeting in this way. We reviewed the scope of the MM@CCM project, team norms and expectations for working together, and the CCM exhibit development process.

The meeting ended with reflections on why we value "little things," the difference between "little things" and miniatures, the nature of collecting, what "small" means in the life of a child, and other ideas that are now on the "Team Table" to help with the process we are going through. 

The group has homework for our meeting next week. We are to think about and draft some "BIG IDEA" statements which are one sentence statements (no more than 25 words) that sum up the idea behind and purpose of the exhibit.

Just because I can't help but nurture, each participant received a laminated MM book mark (with a tassel of glow in the dark beads) and we had mini chocolate chip and mini oatmeal raisin cookies along with M&M Peanuts. Does the M&M stand for Michael's Museum? We'll see.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Extended Team Meeting Kick Off

The next meeting of MM@CCM is scheduled for Wednesday, September 29. Joining this meeting of the team will be a person from Visitor Relations, Public Relations, Marketing, and Development (fund raising.) I am bringing bowls of M&M Peanut, mini-chocolate chip cookies, and mini-oatmeal raisin cookies as well as a "Welcome Gift." You'll find out more about the gift next BLOG.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Meeting

Today was the first Core Team meeting of the "Michael's Museum at The Chicago Children's Museum Project." Attendees included: Exhibit Developer: Katie S., Project Manager: Michele B., Education Developer: Natalie B., Designer: Jenny S., Exhibits & Design Res: Lousie B., and yours truly Content Expert/Curator: Michael H.

We started the meeting by each sharing a favorite childhood memory or small object which included: a small round green wooden box that contained a hollowed out bead with a carved ivory elephant inside (no larger than ¼ inch;) a plastic case of colored pencils, sharpener, and eraser (no larger than a credit card and maybe ⅛ inch thick;) a silver link charm bracelet (no larger than 2" in diameter to fit the arm of a young child and which had a companion bracelet that her mother wore;) a magic genie type pitcher with its invisible occupant; Guatemalan worry dolls, a collection of beach glass and a polished fossil stone; and a fifty year old, hand carved wooden horse with it's equally old companion horse, on loan from the collection of The Ragdale Foundation.

First, each team member explained their role on the team, next was a discussion of our understanding of the scope of the MM@CCM project, then an explanation of CCM's exhibit development process and finally a look at the "Hopes & Desires" for MM@CCM. A time line was developed for concept design, schematic design, design development, and exhibit fabrication.

Next week we look forward to the kickoff meeting with the Full Team which will also include the addition of a: Visitor Advocate, Preparator, Marketing Representative and Development Person.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MEXICO: Festival of Toys

Yesterday I had the honor of attending the opening day celebrations for the MEXICO: Festival of Toys exhibit at The Chicago Children's Museum on Navy Pier. What seemed like several hundred dignitaries, museum staff, board members, media people, and friends of the museum were in attendance. A light breakfast of juice, coffee, and Mexican Pan Dulces was served.

The exhibit itself is overwhelmingly beautiful and engaging. From the Papel Picada (colorful laced flags) hanging in the museum entry area to the colorful ribbons fluttering above your head in the Great Hall, the over 600 toys of all varieties, shapes, and sizes invite you in to play and to learn about the Mexican culture. 

The children and the child in each of us can revel in the creativity of the toys on display. The interactive adventures created to compliment the exhibit allow one to explore, and create. All add up to a well spent afternoon (or morning) experience.

Children's toys present a universal language of a culture. They are used not only for amusement but also to teach and to explain. Toys enable a culture to preserve its past while looking to the future. Don't miss this exhibit … even if you think your children (or you) are too old to play again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It Begins

Dear Michael's Museum Mates,

It begins. The first meeting for Michael's Museum at The Chicago Children's Museum (MM@CCM) takes place on September 20, 2010.

A day or two later, you can look for a report of what took place at this meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is to set the paremeters of the project, meet team members, define roles, as well as potential strategies to develop and design this experience.

A regular meeting schedule will be established at this meeting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

M M @ C C M

Michael's Museum (MM) is soon to installed at The Chicago Children's Museum (CCM) on Navy Pier with an opening date scheduled in 2011. This blog will be devoted to chronicling and documenting this momentous event. 

You can check here for descriptions and pictures of the design and installation process as well as announcements of important dates and events.

Meanwhile you can see photographs of MM and read about the museum and how it came to rest at CCM at: MICHAEL'S MUSEUM.