Thanks to the Junior League of Pasadena
“A children’s hands-on museum is a learn-by-doing, participatory environment with displays that invite touching, testing, and exploring. By giving children the opportunity to explore, they learn how to learn.”
In the winter of 1978-79, a dedicated group of volunteers from the Junior League of Pasadena debuted a pilot project for a children’s hands-on museum in the Baxter Art Gallery on the campus of the California Institute of Technology. The quote above is from the Junior League’s newsletter that year describing the project. Working with local artists, they called the exhibition “Making Senses” and in just 26 days 10,000 children and adults came to explore, interact, and learn.
The idea was such a success that the Junior League brought the exhibit back the next year, this time in the Rosemont Pavilion near the Rose Bowl and the first dedicated director was hired to oversee operations. In 1980, a Board of Directors was organized to guide this pioneering children’s hands-on museum concept. A year later the newly incorporated Kidspace took up residence in the gymnasium at McKinley Elementary School where we spent over 20 years before relocating to the historic Fannie E. Morrison Horticultural Center in Brookside Park.
It was the creativity and ingenuity of the amazing women of Junior League that brought Kidspace to life. And the continued support and encouragement by the organization and its individual members has been a driving force behind the growth and evolution of this treasured Pasadena institution. Two of those original volunteers still serve on the Kidspace Board – Cathie Partridge and Jane Popovich. And many others have given extraordinary amounts of time, talent and resources to the Museum including Marilyn Roberts, Ann Barrett, and so many others.
When Kidspace launched a campaign to make the move to its current location, the Junior League made a gift to establish an Endowment in order to support the continuing educational programs that had become of cornerstone of the Museum experience and made it an important partner with the local school districts. Recently the current Board of Directors of the Junior League was on hand at Kidspace so that we could recognize this gift as well as the collective history together by naming our most popular exhibit in their honor – the Junior League of Pasadena Interpretive Arroyo.
As we move forward with the opening of the new Galvin Physics Forest and with the current Campaign for the Future of Kidspace, we will remain ever mindful of the tenacity and ingenuity of a dedicated group of women whose vision three decades ago still gives us purpose today.
Seen in photo:
Back row, L to R: Rosiris Paniagua, Rita Bristol, Carol Deeter, Alison DeVriendt, Krista Brennan, Faith Mellinger.
Front Row, L to R: Kristen Schwarz, Sandy Roberts, Lilit Grigoryan, Hannah Palmer
Blog Entry by:
Erica Blodgett joined Kidspace Children’s Museum as the Director of Development in the spring of 2012. Erica grew up in nearby Sierra Madre and made many visits to Kidspace as a child. While attending Mayfield Senior School in the early 1990s, Erica volunteered at Kidspace when it was still housed on the campus of McKinley Elementary School.