Sunday, May 26, 2013

Two Years Ago

My Opening Day Ceremonies Address

I retired from education fifteen years ago after thirty years of teaching. I thought I was finished with children. Well, guess what? I am back ... and I am excited to be back.

When asked if Michael’s Museum ... being part of Chicago Children’s Museum ... has met my expectations ... I honestly cannot answer ... for the simple reason that  I never EXPECTED this to happen. 

I just like to collect small things. While I have been a collector for most of my life, the collections you will see here today have been assembled in earnest over the last 30 or so years.

If I HAD expected all of this to happen, I would have to say that the expectations have been MORE than met by the staff of CCM in such an amazing, wonderful, professional, dedicated, and talented way.

At times like this, it is customary to thank all the
people who have helped make something possible . . . Here is my CHRONOLOGY OF THANK YOU’S.

• • •

First, I would like to thank my parents, wishing they were still with us to witness this day. It seems particularly important to recognize my mom and dad on this occasion, as Michael’s Museum owes itself in part, to them ... They raised me to become the best person I could be ... but also encouraged me to hold on to the child within ...  still approximately 9 years old. 

Second, I am sorry that my sister and brother-in-law are not able to be here to experience this joy with me but look forward to next month when they will be able to get here.

Next, I would like to acknowledge and thank the following people and briefly tell you their role in bringing Michael’s Museum to Chicago Children’s Museum. 

When I mention your name, please stand and remain standing.

Gregory, my life partner of over 35 years, who knowing my penchant for collecting, one day suggested that I collect only small things. Little did he know that it would come to this. 

As an architect, he created a space in the guest room of our previous home, dedicated to my collecting. The space became known to family, neighbors, and friends as Michael’s Museum. The original Michael’s Museum.

Amethel Parel Sewell, friend and Editor of the award winning Brilliant Star Children’s Magazine, first helped me to realize that Michael’s Museum could aspire to greater things.  

A special thank you to Susan Tillett director of The Ragdale Foundation, in Lake Forest, Illinois, where last year I was awarded a residency in non-fiction writing and to whom I give credit for first giving me the confidence to call myself a writer, a poet, a photographer.

Barbara Mahany, features writer for The Chicago Tribune was so excited when she saw Michael’s Museum that she devoted an entire “Q” Section article to it. The article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on April Fools Day 2007. It was reviewed again in her recap at year’s end.

Barbara Unikel, my long time, dear friend and fellow educator ... previous Vice President of Education at The Chicago Children’s Museum ... introduced me to Jennifer Farrington.

Jennifer Farrington, then Vice President of Education at CCM, now CEO, in turn introduced me to Louise Belmont-Skinner ... Vice President of Exhibits.

Louise and her then assistant, Sheila Scullin, not only fell in love at first sight with my collections, but together with Jennifer Farrington made the commitment to bring Michael’s Museum to Chicago Children’s Museum.

Jennifer and Louise have remained my greatest admirers, supporters, and champions. 

I like to call Gregory, Barbara, Barbara, Jennifer, and Louise my puzzle piece collection. Without any one of them this puzzle called Michel’s Museum at CCM would not have happened.

The Officers and Board Members ... and Management Team of Chicago Children’s Museum ... have given Michael’s Museum their outstanding support. 

Jenny Schrider has been involved with this project since 2007 as confidant and designer of the Michael’s Museum Exhibit space.

The Michael’s Museum Core and Extended Teams . . .  fifteen people in all . . . since October have taken Michael’s Museum to heights that I never dreamed possible ... and which you will get to experience in a short while.

Thank You Michael’s Museum Team Members for all you have done. 

Katie Slivovsky- Exhibit Developer

Michele Boglio - Project Manager

Natalie Bortoli - Education Developer

Louise Belmont-Skinner - VP of Exhibits

Jenny Schrider - Designer

Ben Waite - Visitor Advocate

Mark Frank - Lead Preparator

Patrick Downs - Assistant Preparator

Rick Cassettari - Support Preparator

Peter Williams - Associate VP of Exhibit and Building Operations

Jennifer Joyce - VP of Marketing

Natalie Kreiger - Director of Public Relations

Stephanie Lieber - VP of Individual Giving

Jon Resh - Artistic Director

Ellen Sanderson - Graphics Designer

Brett Taylor - Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of the President 

and Jasmine Raehl - Manager of the Gift Shop.

Everyone working at CCM always make me feel welcome  ...  if not like a celebrity ...  every time I arrive for a meeting or visit. Please stand.

Family and friends have joined today’s celebrations and many have traveled from out of state to join us. I would like them to stand.

Everyone who is a MEMBER of this wonderful place called Chicago Children’s Museum, show yourselves.

Everyone who has EVER collected, STILL collects, or PLANS to collect . . . whether tiny treasures like I do . . . or larger things like like ideas, experiences, memories,  photographs, books, and more please join us in standing.

• • • 

To everyone standing ...  I THANK YOU ...  for helping make this day possible.  Look around at all of these wonderful people and give yourselves a big round of applause.

• • •

In closing ... I am grateful and honored on this ... the occasion of the opening of Michael’s Museum: A Curious Collection of Tiny Treasures ... at Chicago Children’s Museum ... a world class children’s museum ... with a world class staff ... in a world class city. 

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Children of all ages, step right up ... be amused, be amazed, be astounded ... feel the magic ... experience the joy ... that is ... Michael’s Museum at Chicago Children’s Museum.

Thank you.

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