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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/375

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371
CHILDREN'S MUSEUM AS AN EDUCATOR

THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM AS AN EDUCATOR
By ANNA BILIINGS GALLUP, B.S.

CURATOR, CHILDREN'S MUSEUM, BROOKLYN INSTITUTE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

THE Children's Museum is the only museum of its kind in the world. Although it has not reached its tenth birthday, it has won a permanent place in its own community and has awakened in this and foreign countries an interest in new lines of educational advancement suggestive of greater possibilities.

The origin and early history of this pioneer museum illustrate the power of small beginnings. Its life commenced in the residence of an attractive suburban estate which the city had taken for a public park, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences having leased the house as temporary store room for its scientific collections. Upon the opening of the Central Museum of Arts and Sciences and the consequent removal of the most valuable institute property, the utility of the old residence would have been at an end had not its picturesqueness of situation suggested a branch museum for the benefit of children.

In December of that year, 1899, therefore, the Brooklyin Institute trustees opened to the juvenile public two small rooms of the Bedford Park building. Although the original exhibits consisted of little more than a few insects, shells and stuffed birds, the eagerness with which children sought them proved the necessity for enlarging the scope of work.

Some of the aims in establishing this children's branch were: to form an attractive resort for children tending to refine their tastes and elevate their interests; to create an active educational center of daily help in connection with school studies; and to suggest new subjects of thought for pursuit in leisure hours.

The method of procedure involved first, the necessity of collections attractive and stimulating to children and also helpful to the teachers of those children; second, a system of instruction that would lead to profitable results through voluntary endeavor on the part of the child.

The formation of suitable collections and the work of putting instruction on a practicable basis have involved the expenditure of time, as well as labor and money. But that progress has been made is shown in the contrast between the original collections and the twelve exhibition rooms of to-day furnished with specimens, models and pictures related to nearly every phase of children's intellectual interests.