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1823

Apprentices' Library is founded by Augustus Graham, a free library for the edification of youths and apprentices, and its first meeting takes place at Stephenson's Tavern in Brooklyn.

 

1825

Marquis de Lafayette lays cornerstone for new Library building at corner of Henry and Cranberry Streets.

 

1843

Now called the Brooklyn Institute Library, the organization offers scientific, literary, and educational programs.

 

1887

The Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences is born with a charge to become an all-encompassing museum.

 

1891

The architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White wins a competition to design a monumental home for the Institute on Eastern Parkway.

 

1893

The Institute leases an empty mansion, the Adams House, from the Parks Department for storage of scientific collections and library books, and offers public hours for research.

 

1897

The first section of Brooklyn Museum (usually called Central Museum) is completed, and collections are moved from the Adams House to the grand Eastern Parkway facility.

 

1899

On January 17, Professor William H. Goodyear, Brooklyn Museum Curator of Fine Arts, suggests that the Adams House be “fitted up” for use as a children's museum in a letter to Institute Director Professor Franklin W. Hooper.

On December 16, Brooklyn Children’s Museum is founded as the world’s first museum designed especially for children. The Museum opens at The Adams House in Bedford Park (now Brower Park), near the intersection of Brooklyn Avenue and St. Mark’s Avenue.

 

1904

Anna Billings Gallup, a pioneer of children’s museums, is appointed Curator. Later, she becomes Director and Curator-in-Chief, a position she holds until her retirement in 1937.

 

1905

High school teens build a wireless telegraph station under the supervision of Assistant Curator Mary Day Lee. Messages are received from North Carolina to Maine.

 

1906

Museum receives national recognition when Anna Billings Gallup becomes one of the founders of the American Association of Museums.

 

1915

Children’s Museum League founded “for the purpose of introducing the Children’s Museum to every child in Brooklyn.” Members wear an eight-color celluloid badge.

 

1921

Children's Museum becomes official headquarters for Brooklyn Boy and Girl Scouts; study of collections and Museum field trips assist them in earning badges.

 

1929

Eleanor Roosevelt visits for a Children’s Day celebration as the Museum’s newly renovated Smith House annex opens to the public.

 

1930s

The Work Progress Administration (WPA) brings more than 200 docents, artists, carpenters, printers, and clerks to work at the Museum during the Depression. Over 200 volunteers support museum projects including the construction of exhibits, wooden jigsaw puzzles, and collection boxes.

 

1937

Anna Billings Gallup retires after a 35-year career at the Museum: two years as Assistant Curator and 33 years as Director and Curator-in-Chief. She is recognized as leading advocate of children’s museums at home and abroad.

The American Association of Museums establishes a Children's Museum section, with its first Chairman as Mrs. Dean C. Osborne, president of the Women's Auxiliary of the Children’s Museum.

 

1948

The Museum becomes separate department of Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, with its own Director and Governing Board Institute Trustees. Other separate departments include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the Brooklyn Museum.

 

1953

American doll maker Madame Alexander donates a unique 36-piece set of Coronation Dolls in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

1960

Junior Curator Program brings students from all boroughs of New York City to participate in natural history, science, and cultural history programs.

 

1964

The Museum receives a National Science Foundation grant for summer anthropology and astronomy workshops for high school students. Workshops include an archaeological dig on Staten Island.

 

1968

During the construction of the new building, the Museum establishes a temporary site. The MUSE, the Bedford-Lincoln Neighborhood Museum is modeled after the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in Washington D.C.

 

1969

Traditional programs continue at the MUSE along with new workshops in music, dance, art, and writing. The New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs sponsor a conference, "A Museum for the People," to explore a museum's role in its community and in acquiring, displaying, and interpreting African and African-American art.

 

1972

Museum Director Lloyd Hezekiah and Mayor John V. Lindsey lead groundbreaking ceremonies for new building on corner of Brooklyn and St. Mark’s Avenues.

 

1977

On May 17, the new Brooklyn Children’s Museum building opens at the original site and wins awards for the creation of a “participatory learning environment.” The nearly subterranean building was designed by architects Hardy, Holzman Pfeiffer Associates with interactive exhibits designed by Edwin Schlossberg.

 

1988

The Museum Team afterschool program is created for young people aged 7-18. The Museum is recognized as a national model for serving neighborhood youth.

 

1994

The Crown Heights History Project profiles the African American, Hasidic, and Caribbean-American communities. The Museum, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford–Stuyvesant History mount parallel exhibits.

 

1995

Museum Team receives National Award for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum Services. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton presents the award at a White House ceremony.

 

1999

The Museum celebrates its Centennial as the world’s first museum for children and its role in the proliferation of more than 300 children’s museums throughout the world. The Museum co-hosts the Association of Children’s Museum’s international conference in New York City.

 

2002

World-renowned architect Rafael Viñoly unveils an adventurous new design for the Museum’s expansion, and addition that will double the size of the Museum, bring additional exhibits, and add much-needed visitor amenities.

 

2006

Construction continues on the new building. Towering steel beams are erected along Brooklyn Avenue, forming the internal structure of the expanded Museum and allowing vast walls of windows to let in sunshine.

 

2008

On September 20 and 21, Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened its new building to the public. The environmentally sustainable building is a vibrant symbol of the Museum’s commitment to improving the future for all children.

 

 

 

 

 

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