If you were looking for a museum that was perfect for children, that boasted of around 30,000 visitors per year, was filled with bright colors, cheerful music, eye-opening displays, and hands-on, climb-on exhibits, would you expect to find it in Brookline?
Absolutely. The Museum of Transportation at Larz Anderson Park has made some innovative new changes that make it the perfect place for families to visit, to learn a little history, sample some turn-of-the century culture, and have a lot of fun. On the evening of September 21st the Museum will reopen its Children’s Room in conjunction with a new exhibit called “Kids on the Move.” George Roberts, Director of Education at the museum says “We’ve never had a show like this before, so designed to appeal to children and families.” Roberts describes this fascinating new exhibit as a “celebration of children’s vehicles and wheeled toys from Victorian times to the present, including antique sleds, sleighs, bicycles from [long ago, such as] the Penny Farthing, with the big wheel on the front, little wheel on the back, pedal cars from the 1910’s through the 1960’s, scooters,… a soap box derby car… around 200 wheeled toys from all over the world.” The exhibit has some eye-catching visuals such as a timeline with pictures of the earliest wheeled toy, dating from around 2000 BC, and some enlargements of children and ads from the 1928 Sears and Roebuck catalog.
The Children’s Room goes hand in hand with the new exhibit. It has been colorfully redesigned with families in mind, complete with climb-on cars, new pedal cars, as well as a genuine Boston Trolley. In the theater a Little Rascals movie from the 1930’s plays, featuring the episode where the kids put together a car powered by a donkey. And, in late November, there will be a new show devoted to the “mini car.” These cars, “built in the 1950’s, are half the size of the Volkswagen,” according to Roberts, “[the mini car is] the ‘automobile puppy.’” In previous years, the Museum has had mini car shows on the lawn, which were always very popular with children because of their adorable small size.
In addition to the exhibits inside, every Sunday the Museum has a different show outside on the lawn. October first will be Volkswagen Van Day; October 8, European Motorcycle Day; “Jay Leno came to this last year,” says Roberts. On October 15 will be Swedish Car Day, featuring Volvos and Saabs; and on October 22nd, Studebaker Day, where the Museum will raffle off a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser.
The Museum of Transportation is open every day but Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission $5 for adults, $3 for children, six and younger are free. Don’t forget about beautiful Larz Anderson Park, right outside of the museum. Bring a picnic and plan to spend the afternoon.
Copyright 2000, Susan Senator