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."