The first stage of the PlaySpace project, concept development, has been completed. This stage involved meetings and interviews with noted child development researchers and experts, development of an overall conceptual framework, and a design charrette bringing together designers, Boston Children’s Museum team members, and architects from the noted Boston firm Howler and Yoon, to work an overall design direction for the space. The result is a dramatic new architectural concept that will provide flexible and engaging activity areas, and more efficient utilization of the available space.
“Sonya Kurzweil’s critical leadership gift provides the foundation for re-envisioning and enhancing this iconic exhibit that is one of the most popular spaces in the Museum,” said Carole Charnow, President & CEO. “Sonya’s lifelong commitment to the healthy development of children has been an inspiration throughout the process, and we look forward to realizing our imaginative joint vision.”
The next phase of work will be design development, where floor plans will be rendered, and specific exhibit modules within the zone will be defined. During this phase, the Museum will also be conducting prototyping and refining plans based on visitor feedback. Following this phase, the Museum will begin final design, fabrication, and installation.
“I believe that enriching play experiences are fundamental to healthy child development and to reversing the effects of adversity in early childhood,” said Kurzweil. “I am delighted to support Boston Children’s Museum’s PlaySpace exhibit where all young children are welcome to enjoy the power of play. I sincerely hope others will be so moved.”
Now geared exclusively for ages 0-3, the Museum’s PlaySpace exhibit provides a rich exploratory environment tailored to the unique learning needs of the youngest visitors. The exhibit provides young children with an introduction to the Museum and serves as a place for parents and caregivers to meet, play with their children, and learn from staff and other grown-ups.
The original PlaySpace was developed at Boston Children’s Museum in 1978 by Jeri Robinson and was the first museum exhibit ever developed explicitly for 0 to 5 year olds. Billed as a “family space in a public place” the PlaySpace concept has been copied and adapted by museums internationally, as well as in malls, airports, and other locations. There have been at least four major renovations of PlaySpace in the intervening years, with the most recent in 2001.
“The role of parent engagement was the original philosophy of PlaySpace’s creation. The Museum seeks to engage caregivers in their child’s learning and sees them as the most important first teacher,” said Jeri Robinson, Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives at the Museum. “PlaySpace serves as an informal gathering place where families can learn from and with each other and bring that knowledge home to further enhance playful learning experiences.”
The Museum is wholly positioned to make use of this generous lead gift with the hope of additional, critical investment from like-minded supporters. The construction will move forward with the development of each area to be renovated and enhanced once fully funded. This encompasses developing and prototyping specific exhibit components (modules) to be included in the rejuvenated exhibit. PlaySpace, the pioneer early childhood exhibit, will enter a new chapter of greater impact for future generations.
Sonya Kurzweil, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice, serving women, children, parents and families. She is a lecturer on Psychology at Harvard Medical School, based at Cambridge Hospital, where she supervises child therapy and presents on child therapy topics in the internship programs. In addition, she is a recent adjunct faculty at William James College for Graduate Education in Psychology. Dr. Kurzweil serves as an Overseer at Boston Children's Museum and also is an advisor on the PlaySpace exhibit project. Her publications include research articles in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Infant Behavior and Development and the American Journal of Psychotherapy, and she has co-authored a book of poetry for children with her daughter entitled: Forever Poems for Now and Then (2004, BenBella Books). Dr. Kurzweil has been married to Ray Kurzweil for 42 years. They have two adult children and two grandchildren. She lives and practices in Newton, MA.
For additional information visit BostonChildrensMuseum.org